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“How awesome and powerful God is.”

      Allah Akbar – God is Great.
After the recent attempted rampage at New Life Church, officials no longer have to explain their church’s unusual need to assign a dozen guards, half of them armed, and several policemen every Sunday to look over their members.
Assam gunned down Matthiew Murray on December 9They are quick to add “these are not mercenaries that we hire.” Onward Christian soldier.

Matthew Murray, disgruntled aspiring missionary and product of devout Christian home-schooling, returned to the Youth With a Mission training center with which he’d been affiliated in Denver and went postal. After killing two and wounding another two, he headed to their satellite office in Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, alerted that a killer was not yet apprehended, and apprised that they might be potential targets, the New Life Church management raised the alert and took extra security measures. One of which was to reassign Jeanne Assam, usually the personal bodyguard to their church leader, to a position with a higher vantage point over the congregation. An ex-policewoman, Ms. Assam is currently employed working security for Messenger International, a husband and wife writing team traveling the Fundamentalist Christian self-help circuit.

Sure enough the black-clad avenger showed up and started shooting. Ms. Assam rose from her concealed position and fired repeatedly at the shooter as she closed in, leading reports to describe Murray as having been “gunned down.”

(In a bizarre turn, some news accounts are quoting police investigators as suggesting that the gunman may have died of self-inflicted wounds.)

At a press conference Ms. Assam said she was thankful she’d saved the congregation and “honored” that God had selected her to do it. Asked what went through her mind as the young man fell to the ground, Ms. Assam’s words reminded me of a soldier rationalizing his omnipotence: “how awesome and powerful God is.”

When Muslim insurgents successfully detonate an I.E.D. in Iraq they cheer “Allah Akbar.”

23 thoughts on ““How awesome and powerful God is.”

  1. It was so heart warming to read how the Holy Spirit him/herself was guiding the hand of that pistol-packing mama as she gunned that kid down. Too bad God couldn’t have bothered to address the situation BEFORE the two young girls were murdered (ahhh, that’s the wondrous mystery of our Lord).

    Now let’s all go out and vote in more pro-gun candidates as obviously these are tools of God.

  2. I find it ironic that evangelical Christians spend millions of the Lord’s dollars attempting to convert native peoples around the globe, yet are content to leave their American brothers and sisters on a path to eternal damnation.

    In the Bible Paul, the original evangelist, says, “to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak.” Shouldn’t the Christian credo then be “to the intelligent I became as intelligent, that I might win the intelligent”?

    Gun-toting evangelicals would do well to avoid publicly crowing about their “awesome and powerful” God in the presence of brain-packing unbelievers. Especially when the blood of young sisters-in-Christ stains His parking lot.

  3. Contrast the New Life Church press conference to that of the Amish when a gunman attacked their schoolhouse. The first thing the Amish did was express sympathy to the family of the offender.

  4. The writer is extremely irresponsible in comparing a terrorist who deliberately kills people while saying “Allah Akbar” (God is great) with Jeanne Assam who risked her own life to help save the lives of many people from a crazed gunman.

    also pkz wrote:
    “Contrast the New Life Church press conference to that of the Amish when a gunman attacked their schoolhouse. The first thing the Amish did was express sympathy to the family of the offender.”

    Did pkz (and Marie) miss Jeanne Assam’s statement:

    “I want to extend my sympathies to the families of the victims and the gunman. I mean that very sincerely, Assam said.

    Marie quotes the Bible to discredit Jeanne. Why? We know four people were murdered. She asks (& James does too) why an awesome and powerful God allows that to happen? I don’t know. We don’t live in a perfect world, but we can do our part to make it better. Are we? I am grateful Jeanne was courageous and did her part so more innocent blood was prevented from being shed. There is sorrow for those who died, but it is right to be grateful and honor God that many lives were spared. Sometimes circumstances warrant having two different feelings at the same time. But I fully agree with Marie that no evangelical Christian should be “content to leave their American brothers and sisters on a path to eternal damnation.” All believers should really care and intelligently relate to all who don’t believe the same way as they.

  5. Bob, your points are well-taken. What I mean to convey is that Christians should endeavor to avoid thought-stopping cliches when analyzing complex situations.

    Yes, Jeanne was brave. But she is not a marionette. Courage can also be attributed to the human spirit.

  6. Marie, we should criticize “Islamic insurgents” (terrorists) for giving God a bad name when they say Allah Akbar while killing people. But personally, I won’t mind if (instead of while killing people) they only said it while doing good deeds to people, no matter how many times they said it – if they did and said it out of a good heart, I wouldn’t call them marionettes even if I didn’t believe in their Allah. To call Jeanne a marionette and imply she is not intelligent and unconcerned about people going on a path of eternal damnation is totally unfair and simply not true (she did voice her sincere concern for people) and takes away from the good she has done, whether you attribute her courage to the human spirit or as she did to the Holy Spirit.

  7. Bob, this is kind of off the theme of New Life Church and Murray, the disgruntled ex, but your reference to people you label as ‘Islamic insurgents’ and ‘ terrorists’ is way off. Many people who are labeled as you just did are merely fighting foreign thieves and killers themselves, and trying to get them out of their homelands.

    Who exactly should be labeled terrorists when a Jewish army invades Lebanon, or a Christian army invades and occupies Iraq and Afghanistan? I am interested in your answer since, after all, many of these invaders say that they are doing the work for a Christian god, or their version of ‘saying Allah Akhbar while killing people’, as you put it.

  8. Tony, intent (at least in the USA) in a court of law determines whether something is murder or self-defense, “How” something is done, as opposed to just “what” determines whether something is a terrorist act or a commendable deed. Based on just “what” we could argue who is a terrorist until the cows come home and get nowhere. But if we look at the “how” there should be no question. One side deliberately targets (both intent and how) innocent people or at least doesn’t care if they are harmed while targeting military targets. The other side puts itself at a huge disadvantage by deliberately going out of the way (again both intent and how) to avoid killing innocent lives. Many of the terrorists take advantage of this Israeli and US regard for innocent life and shoot out of civilian homes, schools, mosques, open marketplaces, etc. where their MO is to surround themselves with as many non-military people (human shields) as possible.

    Unless you can defend the targeting of and disregard for innocent lives you cannot say I am way off. Again in the muddled middle where intent cannot be easily seen we can debate until hell freezes but on this one vital issue there should and must be clarity.

  9. Oh come off of it, Bob. The US that you say does not deliberately target civilians is known most throughout the world as the only country that deliberately dropped atomic weapons on civilians. And the record of the US has hardly improved since then either.

    Do I really need to go into all the details with you? The US and Israeli governments practice terrorism aginst their enemies that other would be terrorists can only fantasize about in their wildest imaginations. Get real, Bob.

  10. Tony interesting you did not deny what I said about the targeting by so called Islamic insurgents of civilians by using them as human shields and their deliberate killing and maiming of innocents with suicide bombers and with bombs in general. It would have been foolish to deny it, because it is so blatant, even though they seek to conceal it and deny it as much as possible.

    Nevertheless you seek to justify a terrible, terrible present evil by ignoring it and pointing to another alleged evil of over sixty years ago. Your comment about dropping atomic bombs makes for a nice sound bite but sorely lacks any insight or perspective. Unquestionably it was an agonizing and very difficult decision Truman made to drop atomic bombs. But it helped end a world war neither he nor FDR started Germany did. Neither did we choose to enter the warJapan made that decision for us when they bombed Pearl Harbor.

    But what of Trumans decision, made less than four months after assuming the Presidency? It was a decisive action that caused the almost immediate surrender of an adversary that was hell bent on conquering the world. Yes it cost many Japanese lives – but without this deliberate action it is certainly possible that a greater amount of lives on both sides of the conflict would have been lost had it continued to be waged with conventional weapons.

    Regardless, it was done without malice. The proof is that at wars end the U.S. immediately sacrificed greatly to rebuild both Germany and Japan and helped them become major economic powers again and sought to build bridges with themliteral ones, political ones, diplomatic ones, and relational ones in order to remove their status as pariahs in the world community. And while these countries are now allies (mostly!)of the U.S, we didn’t do it for appreciation and certainly not to absolve any guilt you might falsely presume we had for doing something wrong, but simply because it was the right thing to do. We did not humiliate them, take advantage of them, or try to make them our puppets. It did not happen then and it has not happened since, even to this day. Those who assume we must have an ulterior motive for going into Iraq and Afghanistan should study how we treated Germany and Japan after World War II sometimes firmly, but mainly with fairness and grace and at great cost.

    Muslim history texts completely omit the points I have brought up and present a twisted version (per-version) and view of the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb. They also totally deny the historic claim the Jewish people have to Jerusalem as their holy city, a Biblical reality which predates by over 2000 years the Koran, backed up by 1000s of internal, historical, and archaeological references, a number far surpassing the relatively few references in the Koran to Jerusalem as an Islamic holy city. I am absolutely sure their revisionists know the true history of Jerusalem but they justify the brazen lies they teach to their children because of jealousy, hatred and Jihad. In Jihad, as a leading Islamic scholar was once honest enough to admit, it is fully acceptable and justifiable to spread lies about the enemy.

    You are entitled to disagree with my understanding of world history, the events of World War II, the Bible and the Koran but lets agree to disagree and let it rest unless you can do it in a scholarly and respectful way and not just make caustic sound bites.

    But as far as the details of the terrorism you say the US & the Israeli practice against their enemies I am aware of that. For the Israeli, especially, it is a life and death struggle against enemies that are sworn to their destruction and don’t want peace. But unlike their enemies they only target their sometimes severe vengeance against known terrorists, not against the general civilian population. You are completely fooling yourself to think your beloved Islamic insurgents would not greatly, greatly exceed what is being done to them if they had the technological knowhow and capability to do so. By no means is it something they “can only fantasize about in their wildest imaginations”. That is a very nave assumption! They are doing everythingeverything in their power to practice terrorism.

    Tonynow let me change the subject somewhat. Don’t fool yourself for a moment to think you could exist in an Islamic society and be even a fraction as critical of them as you are of this government and not be brutally silenced or imprisoned. I am not saying your criticisms are not valid. I agree with many of the stands on this website. But if you moved to a fundamentalist Islamic country and tried to point out its injustices you certainly wouldn’t be doing it for very long! I am saying this because this website seems to focus almost exclusively on the glass being half empty, and you are missing the mark if you don’t also include a healthy dose of emphasizing what is right in this country and being truly grateful for it and acknowledging it even when it contradicts with your preconceived concepts.

    This is seen in the militant and harsh and very unfair criticism of Christians and Christianity I consistently read in this website. When you almost try to make a hero of Matthew Murray for killing Christians and make great effort to tear down and belittle the heroic deeds of Jeanne Assam and other Christiansit is too much to stomach, to put it mildly. You are declaring open hunting season on Christians, and making us to be the scum of the earth. But I choose to believe you act and speak this way perhaps because you have not been actively engaged with Christians who could put the proper perspective and a positive and truthful light on topics posted on this website which put Christians and Christianity in a bad light. For this lack of engagement, I will not presume it is the blame of Christians, but for now and perhaps for a short season I can be the face with a name for that engagement.

    I certainly cannot defend all or even much that is done in the name of Christ. But I do know Jesus Christ himself and the sound teachings of the Bible are not to blame for any misrepresentation done by any leader, sect, or person within Christendom. But I can represent myself as a Christian who seeks to live my life in a way that expresses the love of God and expresses high standards of personal excellence in all my circles of influenceat home, at work, in the community, and at church. If you truly knew Christ in the way I know him, as well as the leaders and community of Christians I am honored to associate with, you would know that when a person truly begins to know Christ and seeks to practice the wholesome teachings of the Bible it is the best thing in the world that can ever happen, both to that person and to the people that come into contact with him or her. They are among the happiest, most successful, loving, intelligent, and engaged people that I know. No Christian or church is perfectonly Christ himself is. But I know that as a Christian grows in a relationship with the living Christ and with a healthy church they become more Christ like and make a very positive impact in their home, community and in society.

    Tonynevertheless, it would be wrong to expect a perfection from Christians that you yourself dont have. As Jesus said Let the person who has never sinned cast the first stone. As you admit, you have been a high school dropout, worked sorry jobs (including pushing drugs and being a vampire (?)), had dead-end relationships, and sometimes still drink too muchIn short, a typical American.

    The same is true for a lot of typical Christians. Sometimes miraculous, seemingly instantaneous change occurs in people touched by Christ, but not always. Most changes usually take a great deal of time and effort. I try to exercise unconditional love towards typical Americans and typical Christians and to carry this attitude, you dont have to be perfect, just willing to be perfected. Their stumbling doesnt make them hypocrites for going to church; the people I know are well aware of their short comings and deliberately participate in church to help overcome their flaws and imperfections and to develop their potential to be more loving and Christ-like in an atmosphere of acceptance, kindness and sometimes tough love.

  11. Bob, I am not the author of the original commentary and did not write (nor would have written) anything about Murray or Jeanne Assam, the woman who stopped his rampage in New Life Church. I am an atheist but am not particularly outraged by either Muslims or Christians. I am not hostile to the good side of religion at all. And there is a better side of religion that nobody should lose track of.

    But your acceptance of atrocities committed today and yesterday by Christians does not represent the good side of your religion. By saying this openly and honestly to you does not make me a friend of the Islamic Right Wing, a group of people who have allied themselves often with the Christian Right Wing of this country. I do not forget who gave Osama bin Laden his backing in being a terrorist in Afghanistan back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was the US government of the time, one very much claiming to be quite Christian in sentiment and direction, too.

    Before I wish you a Merry Christmas and urge you to become yet a better Christian in the new year ahead, let me respond briefly to your following comment.

    This is what you said, Bob… ‘But as far as the details of the terrorism you say the US & the Israeli practice against their enemies I am aware of that. For the Israeli, especially, it is a life and death struggle against enemies that are sworn to their destruction and dont want peace.’

    And what is it for the Palestinians, Bob? Are not the Jewish Zionists sworn to destroy them and deny them peace in their own homeland? Are they not in a life and death struggle with an enemy that wants them gone for good?

    It appears to me that you see well the one side of certain struggles and then quite easily become blind to the other side of the issue. As a Christian, you need to better put yourselves in the shoes of the other, and judge more from how it then seems.

    Best wishes to you, Bob, and I hope life will continue to be good for you.

  12. Tony, I echo your closing positive sentiment!

    But I need to correct a false assumption you made, namely:

    But your acceptance of atrocities committed today and yesterday by Christians does not represent the good side of your religion.

    Actually I do not knowingly tolerate the acceptance of any atrocity, whether committed by individuals (atheists, Jews, Satanists, Catholics, Protestants, Muslim, etc.), governments (monarchy, democratic, theocracies, communists, anarchists, etc.) or any other entity, either past, present, or future, even if committed in ignorance.

    As you were completely non-specific as to what alleged atrocities you were referring to let me comment on what you did say and take a guess on what you may have meant.

    There are many things I consider atrocities committed in the name of Christsome consciously and some perhaps in ignoranceall of which very much deserve an apology and possibly/probably restitution, even if they were committed by previous generations.

    Remember I earlier wrote:
    I certainly cannot defend all or even much that is done in the name of Christ. But I do know Jesus Christ himself and the sound teachings of the Bible are not to blame for any misrepresentation done by any leader, sect, or person within Christendom.

    As far as your reference to the Carter and Reagan administrations allowing Osama Bin Ladens rise to power it is a far stretch to blame Bin Ladens atrocities on Christianity. First of all, neither of these Presidents was anything close to being official representatives of any branch of Christianity, though I dont deny their claim to be Christians. They neither consulted or were advised by any official representatives of any branch of Christianity to allow Bin Laden into power nor were they given a mandate to follow that specific foreign policy by a vote of anybody (certainly not Christians). Because of this, neither of them can claim to be following a Christian policy or agenda except in a very narrow sense, such as keeping a campaign pledge to support a Pro-Life policy backed by many conservative Christian groups. They can claim to pray to God for advice, but that can hardly be construed as following a Christian agenda. Perhaps the only Christian advisor these Presidents have had is Billy Graham, but Dr. Graham has never been known to push any policy or agenda to any President as their confidantehe has consciously restricted his role to advising on personal spiritual matters.

    As far as your comment, And what is it for the Palestinians, Bob? Are not the Jewish Zionists sworn to destroy them and deny them peace in their own homeland? Are they not in a life and death struggle with an enemy that wants them gone for good? let me say your statement is dangerous and very misleading, which you use as a basis for saying I need to not be so blind to the other side of the issue, and as a Christian to put myself in the Palestinians shoes.

    The Jewish people, including the most hawkish elements of their government are more than willing to live in peace with Hamas if they would only recognize their right to exist as a nation. But Hamas is completely unwilling to extend the same live-and-let-live attitude and policy toward Israel. Hamas has been completely inflexible on the point of removing from their charter the destruction of Israel. The destruction of Hamas is not and never has been an inflexible goal for the Jewish state.

    I dont think there is anything more to be said on this topic if you still do not understand what I am saying; I certainly dont see any logic or admission of reality in what you are saying. While I am sorry that the Palestinians are trapped in a cycle of destruction and poverty, it is of their own doing, because of their elected leadership, Hamas. It is also equally tragic that the other party, Fatah, is viewed by the Palestinians as a worse alternative because of widespread corruption and an inability to lift them out of poverty.

  13. I hope your Christmas was a good one, Bob? Unfortunately work occupied most of mine, but I have no complaints about that. The family was happy and that’s what counts.

    As to the question of the Palestinians and who is responsible for their plight, you say that ‘it is of their own doing’. And once again we can see once again the ‘Christian’ blind spot for their own misdoings, every big as the one that you gave us a view of in your apologetics regarding the US dropping 2 atomic bombs on a Japanese civilian population. You have rationalized away any Christian responsibility for that mass atrocity, as you are now doing in the case of the Palestinians.

    The Palestinians have been run off their land, had all their property stolen away, made refugees, and been refused the right to be treated equally in a multicultural Israel/ Palestine over a stretch of more than half a century. This was done by a Jewish population, one that in part was originally fleeing a giant Christian based pogrom and Holocaust that destroyed all Jewish culture in Europe, alongside destroying the Jews themselves.

    In talking about this, one must also say that Christians, as a lot, tend to deny their principle role in supporting and maintaining European fascism, the fascism that murdered millions of people in the most inhumane manners. These Nazi pogroms were an extension of other previous Christian pogroms against Jews and gypsies that occurred over many centuries.

    After WW2 the Christian dominant communities in the nations that won that war, began to get a peek at the Nazi atrocities committed by the Christian populations in the countries defeated, and as some sort of atonement for that supported their governments in allowing the Jewish population in the Middle East to get away with a gigantic ripoff of the primarily Muslim Arab population’s property in Palestine. Butt the support for constructing Jewish domination over this population did not end then, but has continued over decades to this very day. The Christian communities around the world have spend hundreds of billions helping the Jewish state develop nuclear weapons and helping them create a Jewish dominated Apartheid colonial state where Jews are allowed to be the dominant culture as they take away the rights of the indigenous population. This was done by Christians, Bob.

    Feel free and write the usual Christian apologetics for these crimes if you want, Bob. But we have all heard them over and over and over before. One cannot just wash one’s hands of these crimes, point the finger at others, and then say it was all their own fault as you are doing, and be very convincing to others at all. That all works very fine with those (Christians?)who want to continue the atrocities, but is pretty damn obvious to any people that want the criminality to be stopped. The Palestinians deserve better from Christians, in the same manner that Black slaves and Native Americans did. It is really a quite similar event, Bob.

  14. Tony, I sincerely appreciate your sharing some specifics in your last post, because now I know more why you believe what you do and some of it makes a lot of sense. I have no formal training in apologetics and I certainly have no interest in defending any atrocity. But we are each a product of our upbringing and I am sure we all bring to the table things we believe in that we have accepted but have not closely examined why we believe what we believe. Perhaps the dropping of the atomic bomb is one of those things. Though some good came out of it, certainly a lot of bad came from it as well. I cannot say the end (of quickly ending the war and potentially saving more lives than it cost) necessarily justifies the means (dropping the bomb). While I cannot say for sure there was a better alternative from a political and military viewpoint, from a spiritual and humanitarian position, I completely agree there should have been a better solution to the very real threat that Japan posed that did not include dropping the bomb.

    I agree the pogroms you spoke of to be atrocities, as well as the crusades and the inquisition and slavery, among others. The rise of Hitler to the extent it was not firmly and in unity resisted (and as you say supported in some circles) points to the weakness and division in much of Christianity. For these things there is no excuse.

    As far as your viewpoint on the origins of the Palestine/Israel geography and conflict, I dont know enough to definitively confirm or deny all the specifics (especially not the conclusions you draw), but for now I will assume you are correct on the basic facts. Even if what you are saying is correct, do you think it justifies targeting innocent people, suicide bombing, and trying to destroy Israel?

    I am not being sarcastic or trying to put words in your mouth, but tell me if I am wrong, because your answers are confusing at best and your silence on other issues I have brought up causes me to really wonder. One can easily be led to believe you agree with Hamass approach. While you call many other things atrocities, you do not seem to consider what Hamas is doing as being terrorism or an atrocity at all. You also seem to believe that because the Palestinians have been mistreated, that the removal of the destruction of Israel from Hamass charter is out of the question. I do not know if you envision two states Israel and Palestine living together in peace or if you only envision Palestine, because you see Israel as a people too evil to coexist with.

    Tony, talk to me in plain English. What do you see as the solution to the Middle East conflict? Please specifically address the issues I have asked of you and dont sidestep any of them.

  15. Bob, good luck trying to get a “plain English….solution” out of Comrade Tony. Contrarian critics don’t feel the need to offer anything constructive, nor to state the principles they actually hold (just review the 10/22/2006 “Capitalism or Not” blog, when I crowned him Emporer, and asked him to tell the rest of us intellectually challenged pinheads what sort of economic system he would thus lead us into…..no response). “Homey don’ play dat!” in the immortal words of Damon Wayans.

  16. Greetings, Michael, I thought you had permanently gotten yourself lost in the shadows of our blog and gone over totally into the artificial light of GlennBeckDumb, but you have returned to cast more stones at us, I see. Anyway, let me answer some of the questions that Bob directed my way instead of getting mired in too much Right Wing Libertarian mud with you once again, Lawyer Mike. (Welcome back, though, Michael. We really did miss you while you were gone.)

    Bob, simply put you want me to condemn Hamas. Yes, I do, and while at it, I want to condemn all Native American savages that murdered White settlers and scalped these decent Anglo folk back during the John Wayne era of US history. Further, I want to denounce all Black slaves that did something terroristic and hideous to their White Masters. Further, I denounce General Santa Anna for having taken no prisoners at the Alamo.

    Now that I have said all this, let me answer you in another way, too, Bob. I don’t support Hamas, and neither does much of the Palestinian community itself, either. But it is important to understand that many of the more secular minded Palestinians have been murdered off through the years. In fact, Hamas, Israel, and the US government were all partners in opposing that more progressive sector of the Palestinian community, all for their own sorry reasons I might add.

    Hamas does not have the franchise on Palestine. They have gained a certain backing amongst Palestinians, simply because the US and Israel have used and corrupted the PLO top dogs into being part of their plans to totally disenfranchise the Palestinians permanently. Hamas came off as being something of the lesser of evils to some more embittered elements of the Palestinian refugee community.

    Why keep supporting a misleadership (epitomized by Arafat) that was in collusion with one’s enemies? And many didn’t.

    Now, to talk some about the bugaboo of supposedly Palestinians as a whole wanting Israel destroyed. Who wants that, Bob? Certainly not the overwhelming majority of Palestinians. They simply want the right to return to all their former properties now incorporated into Jewish run Israel. Almost 100% of Palestinians merely want to return and be considered equal partners in a new Israel/ Palestine, and one that doesn’t want them run out of town, so to speak, simple because they are not Jewish.

    It is important to understand that the so-called ‘2 state solution’ to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict was one that was forced off on Palestinians against their will. The feeling was, ‘OK, Zionists, you won’t live besides us in peace but at least let us settle for a division of territory of some sort.’ It was a phony ‘plan for peace’ that was used to get Palestinians themselves to give up on claiming equality of rights in a better Israel/ Palestine. It was a dead end alley for them forced on them by Jewish dominated Apartheid Israel and the governments of Christian imperialist US/Britain/France/etc.

    It was a defeat for a peaceful solution and a just society in Israel, but that does not equate in today that Palestinians are wanting to kill all Jews at all. Who is suffering more from this permanent war, Bob? It is the Palestinians. They just want a just peace that improves their lot and leads to equality with the Jewish community, and not theft and murder of themselves. Isn’t that something quite reasonable and just, Bob?

  17. Tony you write: “Now, to talk some about the bugaboo of supposedly Palestinians as a whole wanting Israel destroyed. Who wants that, Bob? Certainly not the overwhelming majority of Palestinians.”

    I sincerely hope and wish that is true. Nevertheless, their leadership wants Israel destroyed, something you are unwilling to accept or condemn (except in a very sarcastic, half-heartedly way). And that leadership–at least the militaristic branch of it–alone has been targeted by Israel. But “the Palestinians as a whole” and “the overwhelming majority of Palestinians” have not been targeted.

    Any attempt to garner sympathy for the Palestinian cause, to paint them as victims, and gain any moral high ground is hard to hear and believe, to put it mildly, when their leaders plot night and day to destroy Israel (again the disclaimer, I am only speaking about their leadership, not the Palestinians as a whole). As the saying goes: Your actions are talking so loud I cant hear what you are saying. I know you probably think this saying can be applied to the Israeli as well. Maybe you are also right. Obviously, the mistrust level is high on both sides.

    Tony, regardless your reference to a ”secular-minded…more progressive sector of the Palestinian community” that presumably represents your way of thinking, is something I wouldnt mind hearing more about, provided that sector did or does not also want the destruction of Israel. To the extent that past administrations or the present one may have opposed that sector for bogus reasons is regrettable.

    But you really should stop characterizing Western nations such as the US, Britain and France as being Christian. They are not. The blame for misguided Western policies belongs somewhere other than with Christianity. France definitely is not Christian. It is quite secular and by a wide margin. According to Wikipedia only 34% believe there is a God, 32% are atheist (Tony, you would fit in fine!) and an additional 32% are agnostic. Britain is not much different. And while the U.S. has many people claiming to be Christians, our government, however, practices separation of Church and State with such paranoia it is far from being a Christian nation. There is a big difference between just having people in a nation who are Christian and actually having a Christian nation, guided by Christian laws and principles.

    The US is not a theocracy or close to being the Western equivalent of the Taliban. Christian institutions have less direct influence on policy and laws than the Muslim faith has on policy and laws in a moderate Muslim nation such as Malaysia (which I have visited). The old Soviet Union, Red China, and Cuba can officially be categorized as atheistic governments, because atheism was/ is officially preached and practiced and forced on the people in these countries. The US in the same way cannot be considered a Christian government. Even people who are devoted Christians with formal training, such as former Baptist preacher and former Arkansas Governor and current Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, show less public displays of Christianity and have less direct ability to decree Christian policy than a similar Muslim official does who can create and enforce Muslim policy in a Muslim government. You probably think people like him in government are very extreme and intolerant, but I believe a close examination will show they are anything but that. Huckabee said he would absolutely have no qualms appointing an atheist to office. The pendulum has swung so far toward being secular, that the free practice of true religion (referring to what you once said about there being a good side of religion) has been stifled and faces considerable hostility.

    Also your condemnation of most of the real or alleged atrocities you attribute to Christianity can really only be addressed by mostly one or two of the four main divisions of Christianity. Historically, I see four main divisions of Christianity: 1) Roman Catholicism 2) Eastern Orthodoxy 3) Protestant churches (with many, many flavors) 4) Pentecostal/Charismatic/Independent churches (again with many, many flavors).

    FYI, I belong to #4, certainly far from perfect but which cannot historically be blamed for the atrocities generally attributed to Christianity. #3 has had some notable violations (E.g., Martin Luther was a great and influential Protestant reformer who unfortunately was also very misguided in his anti-Semitist attitudes, something Adolph Hitler took full advantage of), but the leadership of many if not most of the denominations (e.g., Quakers, Baptists) within Protestantism have not supported or participated in these atrocities. The senior leadership of #1 & #2 as a whole does not represent me in belief and practice though I respect many of their people (both in leadership and in the common people), who I recognize for their good works and acknowledge as true believers.

  18. Bob-
    Would you consider dissecting your oft-repeated “destruction of Israel” phrase? You make it sound like people are calling for the annihilation of the Jews. Is that what you think it means? Ahmadinejad is translated to have said he wants to “wipe Israel of the map,” implying some sort of extermination plan. Why don’t you check what in fact he and the Palestinians have been saying, in THEIR WORDS? They’re both calling for the destruction of the BORDERS.

    “Israel” like any nation, is a piece of land. This particular land belonged to its inhabitants until 1948, when the UN decided to appropriate it to demarcate a Jews-only homeland. To call for the “destruction of Israel” is to ask that the natural borders be reinstated, that Palestinians be allowed to return to their lands of origin, and that Jews and Palestinians be compelled to work together, democratically, to form a system of government devoid of apartheid. South Africa was forced to eliminate its apartheid. I’m sure the old white colonists insisted it would be the “destruction of South Africa” (as they knew it), but the rest of us knew it was the right thing to do.

    Israel hypes this turn of phrase all the time. When negotiations for a two-state solution seemed yet again out of reach, Olmert pronounced it would mean the “end of Israel.” The end of a system of discrimination where non-Jews are kept in ghettos until they move away or die? That Israel? Yes I certainly hope so.

  19. I’m jumping in this – but only per one statement….

    Marie – you are correct – Christians should endeavor to avoid thought-stopping cliches when analyzing complex situations -except I would not limit this to a religious problem – and the statement you made is quite cliche – though nicely self-embellishing.

    Make Orgasm – Not Wargasm…. (your cliche also) – is hopefully tongue in cheek. Or there’s a very forked tongue at play. (I’m smiling at some of these entendres, btw.)

    I’m not defending the dogma of church – at least amidst these outpours nor here to defend my own foolery. I’m just suggesting that hypocrisy in itself is often language’s failing or ignorance… or simply lack of time.

    I’ve received some very short words per a recent loss. They are the ones that I respect the most, at least, per a few of them. They don’t attempt to speak beyond the indifference of those that write them. Or they know that the words themselves would limit that which cannot be expressed.

    Some very “faithful” people seem to want to prove faith. When I get so wordy – I know I’m defying the concept. And this is NOT to say I am of faith or not.

    It is good to distinguish what is NOT to blaim on religion – but all these lines above are like borders needing a passport to cross. They are as fruitless as seedless oranges and the only thing they squeeze is time and triggers.

    On a sidenote -all this is just an example Marie. I know you are much more complex. Beyond words at times, too, but “thought-stopping cliches” were also the bulk of Lennon’s lyrics. And the thoughts he aimed to stop were closed minds.

    Careful with those rocks. Even the blog name is a catch phrase and so is “golden cow”. It’s just a matter of how one embellishes/translates/ and distinguishes the words in the mind, is it not?

    From Richard Dawkins to the Bible – no matter how many or how few words, complexity is not resolve and

    Peace

    Is not an understatement.

  20. Bob, you cover a lot of ground in your posts and it makes them hard to reply in detail to. Eric replied to one aspect of your comments, and I would like to reply to another portion of what you mention as being what you believe. I would like to talk about the use of the word ‘Christian’.

    You tried to take on the concept ‘Christian’ by dividing Christians up into 4 basic groups and then absolving all but one or two of them of the historical crimes connected with Christian nations and Christian influenced culture. The only group that you seemed to think involved in major crimes actually were the ‘many flavored’ Protestants! Have you never heard of the pogroms that Catholics and Eastern Orthodox organized?

    Certainly I hear you saying that you do not feel yourself to be in a Christian tradition, as a Pentecostal Christian, where you feel that major crimes have been committed by fellow followers of Pentecostalism. I don’t think that holds up as being the truth though, Bob, though here I don’t really want to go into the details of why I feel that to be.

    My intention for holding back on this is simply to not be an attack dog against your religion because that is no way to reach any understanding of our differences of opinions. Suffice it now to say that I understand though that you feel it unjust to blanketly be labeled alongside all the others that call themselves Christians, as if all of you were absolutely some how more or less identical.

    Unfortunately, many of us have had many forms of contact with many calling themselves Christians who do just that with others than themselves. For one example, I think from your comments that you seem to have a rather monolithic idea of what Islam is all about? But let’s stop here and think some about the world’s largest block of ‘Christians’, one that you did not mention, probably simply because you consider them not to be true Christians like yourself. I am talking about that branch of modern day Christianity that actually blends in mixes in worship of corporations with worship of God. This is the group that most world Christians actually belong to whether they realize it or not.

    Most of the Christian world today is a blended mess of nonsense that includes huge portions of nationalism, secular worship of money and power, and huge portions of superficial head nodding to something called ‘god’. This is the giant not-so-silent majority of Christians today, Bob. See the problem? This is the ‘Christianity’ we feel so negatively about, but we do not mistake it for all Christians just because so many of them have twisted and turned Christian belief into its supposed opposite.

    However, one must mention that Christianity never was a religion in a pure state. When Moses arrived with his 10 commandments (supposedly from God), even then I think that there were certainly many believers who thought he was a con, and not God’s real messenger. So I would tend to think that we cannot ever truly label one group of people labeling themselves Christians as having the absolute franchise about what is God’s word. Put 1000 people in the room with a Bible, and I bet you could not get any 2 of them to agree on what the Bible is all about, beyond almost all of them saying that certainly it is God’s true word. Oops, even then a sizable group would not even say that together!

  21. A lot of interesting comments made since my last post!

    Let me address Erics comments first.

    About my oft-repeated destruction of Israel phrase, it is based on fact and plain English. If you like, substitute some of Hamass own words obliterate or vanquished for destruction of Israel. Read the Charter of Hamas for yourself (http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm ). The first paragraph after an opening quote is:

    “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).”

    Soon after they add:

    “This Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), clarifies its picture, reveals its identity, outlines its stand, explains its aims, speaks about its hopes, and calls for its support, adoption and joining its ranks. Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realised.”

    As you read the rest of the Charter you clearly see these statements are very much in context and not only representative, but central to all of it. Hamas (article 11) wants all of what they call the occupied territories of Palestine for themselves:

    “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

    “This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.

    “This Waqf remains as long as earth and heaven remain. Any procedure in contradiction to Islamic Sharia (law), where Palestine is concerned, is null and void.”

    What is an Islamic Waqf, you ask? Glad you asked!

    According to the dictionary A waqf is an inalienable religious endowment in Islam, typically devoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes.

    How do they envision the Judgement Day or Day of Judgement referred to above come about? Earlier they explain (article 7):

    ” ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.’ (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).”

    This means the rights to Palestine are non-negotiableevery inch (article 6)must be under the control of Allahs representatives.

    “The Islamic Resistance Movementstrives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”

    Am I exaggerating when I say they dont want to negotiate? In their own words (article 31):

    “It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region, because the day these followers should take over there will be nothing but carnage, displacement and terror.”

    Huh? At least I know my duty now.

    More (article 13) on Hamass willingness to negotiate:

    “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. “Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know.”

    “Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Moslem problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?

    “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.”

    Studying their Charter, reading it word-for-word as I did (I didnt just skim it over and pick a few phrases) makes it even more clear that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

    Closing on a more positive note, here is an excellent call to action by a Christian leader that is hard-hitting, but seeks to represent fairly and to honor both Jew and Arab and to give a balanced spiritual and political picture of the Middle East. It is titled The World Must Act For the Peace of Jerusalem Psalms 122:6, from a speech on July 23, 2006.

    http://www.thelivingword.org/tlwf/sermons/theWorldMustAct.pdf

    To Tony:

    I want to clarify any misunderstanding I may have conveyed about which two of four main historical groups of Christianity I felt should be held most accountable for wrong doing. I was referring mostly to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches because they have a unified hierarchy and leadership and history. As such they are directly responsible for things that happened due to policies enforced under their watch. Their unity has created greater power, both for good and evil.

    Both the Protestant denominations and the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Independent churches, however, are not unifiedhistorically they have been mostly a diversified bunch (which can be good), but often with sharp divisions and nasty splits (which greatly dilutes not only efficiency but more importantly effectiveness). Certainly some of the main leaders of these movements have been responsible for atrocities (as well as good), but other main leaders and their followers have done very little wrong and a lot of good. I gave examples of both of these in Luther, the Quakers, and the Baptists).

    Today there is a move in Christianity that is unifying or networking many of the best elements and leaders in Protestant churches with the best elements and leaders in the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Independent churches. For example, Rick Warren, a Baptist pastor and author of the very popular The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life books is very influential not only among Baptists, but worldwide in many Protestant denominations and Pentecostal/Charismatic/Independent churches. He has also raised a lot of awareness and support for social causes, such as the AIDS epidemic.

    Tonyfyi, I think you are quite perceptive and I heartily agree in your identification of what to me is a counterfeit Christianity:

    “Lets stop here and think some about the worlds largest block of Christians, one that you did not mention, probably simply because you consider them not to be true Christians like yourself. I am talking about that branch of modern day Christianity that actually blends in mixes in worship of corporations with worship of God. This is the group that most world Christians actually belong to whether they realize it or not.

    “Most of the Christian world today is a blended mess of nonsense that includes huge portions of nationalism, secular worship of money and power, and huge portions of superficial head nodding to something called god. This is the giant not-so-silent majority of Christians today, Bob. See the problem? This is the Christianity we feel so negatively about, but we do not mistake it for all Christians just because so many of them have twisted and turned Christian belief into its supposed opposite.”

    I do not think God the Father and Christ the Son are at all shocked by what passes as Christianity. After all, He prophesied it would happen. The word picture you draw is not too different from the book of Revelations, starting from chapter 16, verse 17 through Chapter 19, verse 19. It describes a woman it symbolically calls Babylon the harlot, representing a false church, which not only has religious power, but political and commercial power as well. But the mere existence of a counterfeit really means there is a true and genuine Christian church. The book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, goes on to describe a truly glorious and great Church, calling her the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ.

    In closing, perhaps you remember what I wrote you on 12/24:

    “Lets agree to disagree and let it rest unless you can do it in a scholarly and respectful way and not just make caustic sound bites.”

    While it is a pleasure to seek to be scholarly by referencing what I say and to always be respectful, it can be very time consuming. And while for the most part, I feel we have both learned from each other (I know I have) and learned to respect our differences, on some things I know we may never agree on.

    I will check this forum periodically, but if anyone wishes to write me privately please email me at rdc0411@yahoo.com

    I sincerely wish for each of you the best that life has for you.

  22. JimIt took the Guardian writer till close to the end to iitdenfy the biggest underlying hypocrisy of all . Hamas enjoys a democratic mandate Over the past decade the US Monkey-with-a-gun and his UK poodle were SO infatuated with pimping democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan, hither and yon yet they punish and vilify Palestinians for voting Hamas.If this phony coalition didn’t like the speech-patterns of Hamas, it could pressure UN to impose and police anti-hate sanctions on Hamas leaders, not punishment of its civilians for voting incorrectly. All the legal hate-crime templates and methodology are already available from western countries and of course Israel.If that didn’t work ok, sanctions.

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