Thursday, August 16, 2018

Life Or The Party

There are things in this world that I do not understand. Most of the time, I am fine with this. When I am not fine with this is when a double standard is very obviously in effect. For example, a group supposedly standing for something in slogan that they refuse to stand for in action.

Take for example this latest act of insanity: A "Right To Life" group that will not support a pro-life candidate because he or she is not a member of either major political party. You read that correctly.

The slogan above should, perhaps, read: "Support Pro-Life Candidates (if they are major party members)!"

The current gubernatorial race in Oregon could best be described as a train-wreck for the Sanctity of Life Movement. The candidate the only Right To Life PAC in the state backed, Greg Wooldridge, lost... And miserably, based upon the numbers. Just over sixty-three thousand for the ORTL candidate, and more than one hundred forty-four thousand for the Primary winner, Knute Buehler. The ORTL lost its gamble by more than twenty percent.

I am not knocking the three-time leader of the Blue Angels Squadron, by any means; however it seems to me that the ORTL backed the wrong candidate. Allow me to elaborate. In every state in these United States, there is generally a mistrust of outsiders wishing to take public office. The hopeful could be a living saint, and still the natural-born residents would view them with a high degree of skepticism. It is not Captain Wooldridge's fault really. Trying to win in one's adoptive state is hard enough; trying to win in an adoptive home state that has historically elected a Democrat governor is far worse. Many hopefuls prior to the three-time Boss have found that to be true, and now so has he.

Now that the ORTL gubernatorial hopeful is out of the running; and the current GOP candidate is not pro-life; it seems natural that the PAC would reallocate funds to support the only other pro-life candidate on the ballot. However, this is not the case. Seemingly it has never been the case, and if the ORTL PAC's Political Director David Kilada is to be believed, it never will be.


Because in Kilada's own words: "Minor parties haven't demonstrated that they are capable of fielding winning candidates." This is taken from an email sent to a loyal reader of this blog, who passed it along in the hopes that we might be able to shed some light on what seems to be (pardon the expression) an abortion of justice and common sense. Elsewhere in the email, asserts that "The amount of resources we would need to carry a minor party candidate through statewide is astronomical.  We don't believe in throwing away endorsements." Later on, the Political Director rather curtly adds "Policies have implications.  That's why we are careful to follow them.  Our policies such as these are how pro-life voters know they can trust our process."

It may be asserted by the PAC that this article is taking statements out of context. Sadly this is not the case. At the end of this article, dear reader, you will find the full text of each email sent to this member of the Renegade family. Read and judge for yourself.

In any case, the stated purpose for the PAC's existence reads in part "[o]ur focus is on electing champions for protecting life from conception to natural death." This Mission Statement comes into question when there does exist a gubernatorial candidate that would champion this cause wholeheartedly: Oregon native and Constitution Party nominee Aaron Auer. It especially comes into question when the idea of them "work[ing] to identify and support pro-life candidates for office..." doesn't seem to line up with their actions.

The logic expressed by the PAC regarding third-party candidates seems to fall to pieces when
considering any number of relevant facts: The fact that Mr. Auer has done all his own campaigning and funding; the fact that on a far smaller and tighter budget than his competitors, he repeatedly brought in at least one percent of the vote, and all in general  election.

Aaron Auer is a circuit-riding preacher; he founded the ROAR (Restoring Oregon's Amazing Roots) organization, and regularly participates in events aimed at reminding people of the state's awe-inspiring history. He keeps the account of the Nez Perce tribe and their quest for the Book Of Heaven alive. He fights tirelessly to prevent the Circuit Rider monument from being removed from the State House grounds. He is galvanized, courageous and emboldened to champion righteous causes- And the Sanctity of Life issue is certainly a righteous cause.

In spite of all of this, an examination of the PAC's recommended candidates revealed no mention of the Constitution Party hopeful whatsoever. Why? He did the work to get himself on the ballot. He's putting in the effort to travel and meet people. He's drumming up support for himself by pounding pavement. Yet his name does not appear in the PAC's list of supportable candidates. (See image left)

Kilada maintains that "...endorsing minor party candidates would ...throw away elections by endorsing multiple candidates in races with pro-choice candidates." Yet in an earlier email he notes that "[w]e are focused on the dozens of legislative and local elections that are critical to the pro-life movement." Now wait just a moment, Mr. Kilada - Didn't you say that endorsing multiple candidates throws away elections?

The Political Director of the ORTL PAC also asserted that they "do not have favoritism in terms of parties." Yet a quick search of the names above show something interesting: Vineeta Lower - Republican. David Molina - Republican. Alexander Flores - Republican. Dorothy Merritt - Republican. Jack Zika - Republican. Brian Stout - Republican. Christine Drazan - Republican.

While it could be chalked up to the Democrat Party's inability to put forward a pro-life candidate, it certainly seems strange that there is no "favoritism in terms of parties," and yet the only candidates listed are GOP hopefuls. Additionally, about half of them are running against incumbent Democrats in districts that routinely elect Democrats. What was that about "throw[ing] away elections" and "throwing away endorsements?"

It is a wonder to me that, after seeing all of this malarkey and self-destructive adherence to a faulty policy, the ORTL PAC would invite people interested in running for office to contact them. What would they be told? That they must seek election as a Republican or a Democrat to be supported?

Suppose someone has the good will, support and backing of more voters than the GOP or DNC pro-life front-runner. This would virtually assure that well-liked candidate the electoral win. Would they be denied even an honorary mention simply because they were running under a third party?

As a pro-life family man considering a move to Oregon in the near future, I have been watching the electoral process fairly closely. I've paid attention to who has said what. I've researched the voting records, pet projects and desired goals of incumbents and hopefuls alike.

Nothing- And I repeat, nothing- Prepared me for seeing the sort of shocking lack of vision and foresight displayed by the Oregon Right To Life Political Action Committee. When someone with the title of Political Director can state over and over again that "our PAC policy has been and remains that we do not endorse minor party candidates" and "endorsing minor party candidates would ...throw away elections," there is something wrong.

These are not policy fueled processes that I, as a voter, could trust. To blatantly state that "[w]e are the only pro-life organization that works to support these candidates and it's critical that we get the word our[sic] to pro-life voters about these candidates" and then leave off any pro-life candidate is, in my view, a betrayal of trust. Regardless of policy. Regardless of donation. Regardless of party. A statement that "This is not our official candidate, but he is pro-life also" would be far better than an egregious display of willful ignorance.

Worse than a betrayal of trust, however, is the betrayal of that which the ORTL PAC adamantly claims to stand for:

Now, as promised, I will provide the emails I received. Read them, weigh them, and decide whether this PAC deserves support - Or if the candidate they have so casually thrown away as inconsequential might just be the message that they, and the state of Oregon, need to get loud and clear.

Incidentally, there has been no word if the reader has received anything back from Kilada. I will update this article if there are any new developments.

Email #1

Email #2

Email #3

Email #4

Email #5

Sunday, December 24, 2017

News Commentary Break: Lorde, The UN, And Israel

Bullspit Of Epic Proportions

Truth be told, I like some Lorde songs. I think she's got a unique voice and a very different ear for music. I also can't say that I am upset with her for canceling her show: It's her show, and what she does with her business is her business. It's no skin off my nose if she chooses to respect her Israeli fans, or respect her Palestinian fans, or disrespect most of her fans to please a portion of them. It really is none of my concern.

What is my concern; what does have me ready to unload on someone; is the level of misinformation being spread around. What does have me pissed off is the pure and unadulterated stupidity seen in the United Nations today. What does have me angry is the relative ease with which a whining, vocal few can sway public opinion. 

Case in point: Lorde. I don't know the young lady, but I'm guessing she's very busy being a singer and performer. I'm guessing that between performances, publicity appearances, release parties, studio work and interviews, she has precious little time for herself. I'm guessing that much of her quality alone time outside of the public's eye is spent doing things she enjoys- And unless she enjoys researching international politics; the history of Israel and the Palestinian people; the creation, governance and activities of Hamas and Hezbollah; and the recognition policies of the United Nations, she probably doesn't know as much as she should to make a truly informed decision. However, introduce a whining, sniveling, simpering, sob-story toting duo of millennial/hippy hybrids writing a letter full of historical inaccuracies and factually flawed reasoning, and this incredibly influential pop star makes a decision which in turn sways public opinion. 

"A Difficult Time"

I'm sure that Palestinians throughout the region were suffering terribly, wondering if she was going to come or not. I can almost guarantee that no Muslim woman would be at the concert anyway; at least, not in any visible way. You see, such Western entertainment is considered to be corrupting to a Muslim; but especially to a woman. To see Lorde on stage showing skin not normally seen in a strict Islamic society could potentially cause women to think they were empowered, valuable or worse, (gasp) even human. If given the chance, I'd like to ask Ms. Abu-Shanab why she does not attempt to teach under Hamas or Hezbollah rule. I'd also like to ask Ms. Sachs why she thinks it's possible that she could return to Israel while still heading up her Deyanu organization. 

The simple truth is that Ms. Abu-Shanab would face persecution and possible death under Hamas and Hezbollah for being a woman teaching- Whether she is Muslim or not. Meanwhile, Ms. Sachs would be allowed to continue her involvement with an organization aimed at lambasting Israel for its supposed occupation of Palestinian land while living in Israel because they maintain much the same individual freedoms as the United States. The worst Ms. Sachs might experience are some harsh words from people who don't approve; far easier to deal with than the literal stones which might be thrown at Ms. Abu-Shanab. 

The reality is that no Palestinian dwelling in regions around Israel were having a difficult time due to Lorde; nor would they have any additional difficulty if she had chosen to keep her concert. No, the reality is that the difficulties these Palestinians face come directly from their coalition government: Hamas and Hezbollah. These two groups, still listed as international terrorist organizations, are the entities throwing fits about Jerusalem's recognition as Israel's capital. To stay alive and semi-cared for, the people barely surviving under this joke of a government merely repeat the party line.

The Sins Of America

According to dimwitted and well-intentioned people alike, the move by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "shortsighted," "piggish," and "the actions of a Zionist bully," to use just a few of the descriptions I've heard. These individuals seem to forget the requirements for admission into the United Nations, to say nothing of simple history.

President Trump did nothing unusual: He recognized a city as the capital of a country that has had that city as its capital since inception. Would we be claiming issues if the U.S. recognized London as the capital of the United Kingdom, Paris as the capital of France, or Ottawa as the capital of Canada would there be an issue? Of course not. Yet these three countries have the largest Jewish populations in the world apart from Israel and the United States. 

The issue is not that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The issue is that Israel even exists, and I absolutely dare anyone to try proving me wrong on that statement. The sins of America in relation to Israel are many: We did not step into World War II soon enough; we did not treat them properly under many presidential administrations since their sovereign national identity was established; and we have not done enough to help their neighbors rid themselves of Hamas and Hezbollah. With the absence of these organizations, and a genuine democratic republic in place, the Palestinian peoples would actually be capable of speaking for themselves. 

The Treason Of The United Nations

In order to be admitted to the United Nations, an application must first receive a minimum of nine out of fifteen votes from the Security Council. Then it must receive a two-thirds majority vote from the General Assembly. In 1949, the nation of Israel was accepted into the United Nations with a better than minimal vote. 

In the speeches accompanying their admission, the Jewish people were hailed for their contributions to humanity. Phrases such as "advancement of progressive thought" and "Useful member of the family of nations" were used in these final discussions and statements. El Salvadore stated that it had watched the process "with the warmest desire to promote its admission." These are just some of the glowing terms used during these final speeches. 

Naturally, there were those opposed. It should come as no surprise that these were almost exclusively Arab, and almost entirely Muslim. It should come as no surprise that the anti-Israel initiative began even as they were admitted to the United Nations. Iraq called Israel's admission "another nail in the coffin of the United Nations." Egypt implied that admitting Israel would bring "everlasting shame and humiliation" to the United Nations. Syria accused the United Nations, stating they had "rewarded violence with praise." Nevertheless, Israel was admitted.

Ironically, the United Nations is now doing exactly that: Rewarding violence with praise and condoning terrorism with a smirk and a shadowy hand-off. The Arab states surrounding the nation of Israel have, from 1949, continually attempted to wipe Israel from the map. This is incontrovertible fact, and it cannot be excused. 

So this brings us to the latest treason against Israel perpetrated by the United Nations; this in addition to them funneling money to Hamas and Hezbollah in spite of the fact that they are recognized terrorist organizations; this in addition to supplying the coalition government formed by these two organizations with finances to bring legal action against Israel- This in spite of said coalition government not being a member state. 

This is the latest:

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Notable Event

A classic Christmas scene - But how accurate is this?

Tradition Reigns

We know the scene: Mary and Joseph staring down at a serenely sleeping baby Jesus, surrounded by animals, shepherds, angels and three kings - And all in a stable, because some innkeeper was a jerk. Joseph has a staff, of course, because he's like Gandalf facing the balrog better known as Herod: "You shall not pass!" Jesus lay sleeping soundly, because being God, he would never fuss. Mary is radiant, of course, showing no signs of just having given birth. All the animals would naturally be facing their Creator, and the three kings would stand pondering the newborn wisely.

This is that classic creche scene, isn't it? Even many churches that put on Christmas pageants have all these characters together. Since that's the tradition, why question? If that's how our churches portray it occurring, why doubt? Even many of our favorite Christmas carols reinforce these concepts, for Kringle's sake!

The problem is that very few of these classic scenes are confirmed in Scripture. What's more, the Bible in its entirety actually puts a bit of an unexpected spin on quite a few dearly held assumptions. In these next few articles leading up to Christmas, I'd like to share some of these spins with you all. Nothing contradicts or invalidates the Word of God - But much of what we thought we knew about the Christmas story is about to get shaken up.

Setting The Scene Correctly
Here is a more realistic setting for the Nativity scene.

One of the first things that ought to be understood is that we've been assigning blame to some poor schmuck who likely never existed. There are only two accounts of Jesus' birth in the Bible, and neither mention an innkeeper. Yet for who knows how long, we've been blaming some random proprietor of some ancient hotel, motel or Holly Day Inn for Christ being born in a stable.

As a matter of fact, the original language in Matthew suggests that there wasn't an "Inn" at all. The word in Greek is kataluma, and suggests a set place of rest for travelers. Interestingly, there have been archaeological finds showing such public shelters, often built above a cave. There was no topos, or space, for them in the kataluma, or shelter. Because of this, Joseph took his pregnant wife to the closest protection he could think of: The cave beneath the traveler's shelter which housed the livestock.

Another aspect of this scene? An exhausted Mary. You see, while she had been promised the honor of carrying the Son of God, she had not been promised a painless pregnancy or an easy birth. The classic vision of her kneeling beside her newborn son is likely less than accurate. If she was cradling her son as she lay on her side, or slightly reclined, this would be more realistic.

That being said, it is possible that Mary was simply able to give birth and bounce back almost immediately. It was also extremely unlikely. The swaddling cloths that Jesus was wrapped in were quite possibly meant for Mary in the case of her death. According to historical record, the mortality rate of birthing mothers was high; and Jews could not come into physical contact with the dead. Thus, strips of cloth were carried to enable the safe movement of a body. In this case, Christ was wrapped in such cloths at the beginning and end of his earthly life.

The Baby Jesus

One of the biggest issues I have found with the traditional scene is actually that of the baby Jesus. In carols, in Nativity scenes, and even in some sermons, this newborn child is depicted as being some serene sleeper. A no tears infant of incredible understanding and comprehension. There's just one problem with this: That's not the picture given us by Scripture.

In Matthew 1:25, we're only told that Mary gave birth to Jesus before Joseph consummated their marriage. In Luke 2:7. we're given a little more detail: She gave birth to a Son, wrapped him is swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger. In verse 16 of the same chapter, we're told that the shepherds came to find Mary, Joseph and the baby laying in the manger.

Notice that nowhere does it tell us about the behavior of the infant Jesus. However, we are told that "He learned obedience through the things He suffered." (Hebrews 5:8) We see that he behaved just like any other headstrong 12 year old, deciding what he thought to do was more important than following his parents home from the Temple. (Luke 2:41-52) Thus, he was as much human as God. This suggests to me that Jesus probably cried in the manger; that Mary and Joseph probably changed their equivalent of diapers; that they had their share of sleepless nights as a family; and that the boy Jesus probably had to practice measuring and cutting in Joseph's shop before he got it right.

Bottom Line

There's nothing heretical or apostate in looking at likely realities where the Bible and Scripture do not inform, so long as these do not contradict the Word of God. Pointing out, for instance, the fact that Jesus was probably just like every other newborn is not a violation of Scripture- Perhaps traditions, but when tradition and Scripture collide, tradition must bow to the Bible.

Pointing out the historical unlikelihood of them trying to stay at an inn may seem to contradict Scripture at first. However, when the original Koine Greek is examined, it's easy to see how the two words topos and katalumas have been misinterpreted in our modern day. Even King James Only advocates have little to complain about when it comes to this, as in the early 1600's, such shelters were still present here and there throughout Europe and Middle Eastern countries. It is simply the definition of words, and thus our understanding of those words, which has changed.

Stay tuned for the next examination.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Beyond The Bend

Have you ever gone for a walk on an unfamiliar road? Have you ever encountered a sharp turn in that road that you couldn't see past? Ever stared at that ninety degree angle and found yourself wanting to just turn around?

There are times we don't want to take that turn. Maybe we're just out for a simple walk. Maybe we're driving through a strange neighborhood. Maybe we're on that road call Life and this turn has suddenly appeared before us. We all have moments where we hesitate. Why?

These turns are frightening. These turns are scary. We can't see around them so we don't know what's waiting for us. That makes us think of all the "what ifs" that could be waiting for us. Those possibilities grow and get stacked up until we can't see anything else.

The "what ifs" are what cause fear. They are fair-weather friends in the best of times. Most often they are our enemies. They wait for an opportunity to stab us in the back. An opportunity like a blind turn in front of us. There they attack. There they bring fear.

Fear has been defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. That's what the "what ifs" really are. We don't know that those terrible "what ifs" aren't there. At the same time we don't know that they are. False Evidence. Fake news. Nothing but day dreams gone bad.

This is one reason the Apostle Paul said to "take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) Christ is God. (Jn. 10:30-33) God is Love. (1 Jn. 4:8) Perfect Love drives out fear. (1 Jn. 4:18)

There is nothing to fear when we have perfect love. Humans really don't have perfect love. We are able to have perfect love when we have Jesus Christ. When we have Him in our lives we need to make every thought obey Him. When every thought obeys Him there can be no fear.

I'm sharing this because I'm practicing. I'm still working at this. I'm not a master yet. I have noticed that it works. When I remember to make my thoughts obey Christ, the fears disappear. So do the "what-ifs." When the "what-ifs" are gone, I am able to make it beyond the bend.

So can you.

[This is the second installment in a new series. The first is HERE.]

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Edge Of Loss

I sit here typing away on a laptop, currently warm and sheltered from the cold outside. It may seem that all is well, but reality is a... Uh... Well, let's say that reality is not nice. Reality is a harsh wind in the face of a soft hope.

I could say a great deal about reality right now. I could rant and rail, which would be fitting for this blog I guess. I could complain, but who'd actually read the whole article at that point? No. Though I have one hundred and one things to say about reality, I'll stay quiet.

The truth is that reality has two edges. With one edge it cuts us deeply. With the other, it clears a path for us to walk. God's Word is indeed a lamp unto our feet, but I have noticed that God uses reality to make sure we're awake.

Wasteland Of Desperation

night in the desert
Courtesy of Freely Photos - Credit: Mohammad Alizade
As I sit here typing, I have a few tabs open in my browser. One is a job search. Yes, I have been placing applications. I average about five a day. I also call the companies where I've applied if I don't hear from them within seven days.

The rule I live by when seeking work is simple: "My future in God's hands, my resume in everyone else's." This is a great rule. It has worked well in the past. It is not working right now. In fact, I haven't worked steadily in over two years. That means that the rule hasn't worked for me in over two years.

I have worked some odd jobs here and there. Most have amounted to day labor. Due to God being good, my family has never wanted for a roof, food, warmth or transportation. Until now. Until this moment. This night when I stare total loss in the face and wonder what comes next.

Death Of The Faithful

My wife and I have had a faithful car for as long as we have been married, some four years now. It was her car before I married her. It has been a good car to us and our baby.

Last night, I lost reverse. Then I began losing speed. Our car sits outside tonight on life support. She is able to start. She is able to run. She is unable to keep going for much longer though. She is certainly unsafe for the daughter that so loves car rides. She is too wounded to be trusted with my wife.

Tomorrow, I will likely take her on one final drive. We will ride slowly with her hazard lights blinking away. I may or may not be crying. I know how silly that sounds.
Courtesy Free Images - Credit: Brian Tan

I will think of all the fond memories we have made with her. The night my wife and I made our way to the hospital. The day we returned with our daughter. The long road trip to New England to visit my family. Visits, long talks, earnest prayers, rehearsed lines for opening night... All within this faithful car.

Our destination will be the local Junk Car Medics. They will put money in my hands, and I will walk away. She will have made one final sacrifice for her family. I will feel like Judas.

Sour Hopes And Sick Hearts

My family lives in a studio apartment now. Two adults and one infant in an apartment the size of a modest motel room. We wait for red tape to be cleared elsewhere. At some point, my phone will ring. A friendly voice on the other end will tell me that my family and I can finally move. That we are finally fully funded.

Yet we have waited and waited. The phone does not ring. Our savings account drains and still the phone does not ring. I write articles to sell. I write more than I sell. Still the phone does not ring.

I forgot, I'm afraid. I forgot what it felt like to have hopes and dreams go sour. I forgot what it's like to have my heart become uncomfortable. Then spiral from discomfort to discouraged. From discouraged to agonized. From agonized, to sick.

Hopes held too closely ferment. When they are not kept properly, they grow old. They begin to wrinkle, peel and stink. At the height of their souring, they begin leaking. The toxin of the once promising hope begins to poison the heart. Naturally the heart grows ill.

Bait And Switch

Yesterday I was finally able to get a job. Sort of. It's on a day to day basis. Weather tends to affect the schedule. Temperature is an issue also. If things get too cold there can be no work. Yet income is income. I cannot afford to be proud.

I spoke with my future employer yesterday afternoon. I was on a hands-free device while driving. I was able to tell him that I had transportation. Then last night she began to die. Now we have to sell her for scrap.

Will I still have a job? I was supposed to start on Tuesday. I don't know what the day after tomorrow will bring. I hope to be working. I just have to get there.

The Meeting Place

Many paths meet on a dark desert night. That night is now. Will I be working on Tuesday? Will they buy our car tomorrow? Will disaster be avoided for another week? Or will rent go unpaid? Will we be sent over the edge of loss? 

I simply don't know. I know we are here in spite of all I've done. I know we still cling to hope. I know that dreams never really die. They mutate perhaps. Sometimes they become zombies and return to bite us. They never really die.

The biggest thing I have to remember is that more than problems meet here. This is the hard place where God's power crashes into the rock of troubles. When all is said and done, I know we'll be all right. I'm just convinced.

We'll be together in the meeting place. No more rock. No more hard place. No more blind curve in the road of life. We'll be beyond this trouble. There will be others to be sure. Each time, I know that we'll be there again. 

At the meeting place on the edge of loss.

[The second installment in what is becoming a series can be found HERE.]