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At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

The “Existential Crisis” of the Islamic World’s Christians

posted by Jack Kerwick

In spite of what Barack Obama would have us believe, he was as much in tune to Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress this week as was anyone and everyone else in the world.  But exclusive focus on American/Israeli and Israeli/Islamic relations threatens to blind us to the fierce, unrelenting oppression with which Christians throughout the world are routinely forced to reckon courtesy of their Islamic neighbors.

Throughout the Islamosphere in Africa and the Middle East, men, women, and children have been subjected en masse to unspeakable acts of cruelty.  Jihadists, while pillaging and burning homes and churches, have laid waste to whole communities.  Families have been destroyed as husbands and fathers were bludgeoned, beheaded, and burned to death; wives and mothers raped, beaten, and starved; young boys forced to convert to Islam and take up arms on behalf of their captors; and young girls enslaved and sold off to become either wives to grown men or human missiles—i.e. suicide bombers.

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Meanwhile, stateside, the historical and theological illiterates of the left—exemplified by none other than our 44th President—spout as a matter of course vacuities designed to imply moral parity between Islam and other religions.  Worse, the American left reserves not a fraction of the condemnation for Islam, or even ISIS, that it regularly unleashes on Christianity.

But there is no moral parity here.

And it is profoundly offensive for anyone, least of all self-avowed Christian leaders, to suggest otherwise.

People like none other than the titular head of my church, Pope Francis, sought an explanation for the mass murderers that attacked Charlie Hebdo that came dangerously close to sounding like a justification.  To be clear, the Pope doubtless abhorred this ghastly deed as much as anyone.  But he expressed an understanding of these Islamic killers that he never would have dreamt of extending to Christians whose sins were far less grave.

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That there is a glaring contrast between Christianity and Islam is gotten quickly enough when we consider just how the legions of Christian victims of Islamic persecution have responded to their tormentors.

In Niger, where ISIS incinerated 45 churches, the Christians who survived the rampages (which left at least 10 dead and roughly another 170 people critically injured) still managed to gather to worship together.  According to The Voice of the Martyrs, a teenager remarked: “I guess God found us worthy.”

Open Doors reports that following the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christian by ISIS, churches in Egypt “united” to pray for the murderers.  This organization dedicated to serving persecuted Christians shares a letter penned by an Egyptian “Christian leader” whose name remains anonymous.  “The sound of prayers requesting mercy and life, not revenge and destruction, calling on God’s name to come and change the hearts of the killers, is loudly heard across Egypt.”

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The letter relays that the “heartbroken wives, mothers, fathers and children of the martyrs,” while interviewed on national and other television shows, offered “simple expressions of love and forgiveness” that “brought down so many tears on air and surely delivered a mind blowing message about what the Christian faith is all about.” Pastors of Egyptian churches are “calling their congregations to wake up and pray for the persecutors of the church to come to meet with the Savior” so that “God will remove their stone hearts…and give them hearts of flesh and blood, capable of loving.”

Organizations like Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs ask Christians around the world not to take up arms and avenge their subjugated brethren, but, rather, to pray for them.

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The Christian News Wire reports that Christian Freedom International asked three Christians from three different Muslim-majority countries about their thoughts on Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast remarks.  Their responses are telling.

A Pakistani Christian replied: “I strongly condemn this statement by US President Obama…  Christianity has always preached to love our neighbor.”  The person added: “I know of no Christian extremist groups attacking people of other faiths.”

An Egyptian Christian said that he or she—the lives of these believers depend upon their anonymity—disagreed with Obama.  “Coptic Christians in Egypt are very much pacifists and considered the most vulnerable minority [.]”  Thus, “we cannot persecute people of other faiths.  We Christians do not persecute Muslims. But we Christians are persecuted.”

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A Muslim convert to Christianity living in Bangladesh had some particularly revealing things to say.

“But, the basic difference [between Christians and Muslims] is that Muslims today are being influenced and taught by their religious books to persecute the people of other beliefs.”  In contrast, you can’t find “a single word in the New Testament that influences Christians to persecute others.  The New Testament teaches [about] loving others.”

This convert from Islam mentions that while Christianity has produced numerous people, like Mother Teresa, who have made enormous sacrifices to serve others, “there is not a single example in the Muslim World of a Mother Teresa.”  Instead, “Muslims have examples like Osama bin Laden.”

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This person doesn’t stop here though.  He or she identifies as the inspiration for Obama’s comments an Indian Muslim scholar by the name of Dr. Zakir Nayak.  The latter, according to this irate Christian, “defends al Qaida activities by saying, ‘Christians and Jews did terrible things in the past.” Obama, he thinks, was exposed to Nayak while in India.  At any rate, this interviewee poses a “challenge” to Obama to “find a single word in the New Testament that influences people to persecute others, where there are thousands [of such words] in the Muslim book, Quran.”

If Islamic militants can be said to pose an “existential threat” to anyone today, it is to those Christians living in Islamic lands.

Only don’t expect for Obama or John Kerry to ever bring this up.

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Myron Pauli: “Barack Obama: All American”

posted by Jack Kerwick

In what follows, all-around bright guy, Myron Pauli, weighs in on the brouhaha surrounding Rudy Giuliani’s judgment that President Obama doesn’t “love America.”  Dr. Pauli provides some real food for thought.  If he’s right–and, tragically, it’s tough to show that he isn’t–than America’s problems are much, much larger than this president.  

In scientific research and on Jeopardy, it is essential to ask the right question.  However the American media consistently ask the dumbest questions.  Hence, we are treated to discussions of “are the 9/11 hijacker-murderers ‘brave’ or ‘cowards’”?  Another idiotic debate is: “Are the millions of Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Sufis, Salafis, and Wahabbis who hate our guts ‘real Moslems’”?  Alternatively, “Is Barack Obama a Christian?” (Should I care?).

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Now, the latest stupidity of the week, thanks to Rudy Giuliani – “Is Barack Obama Anti-American”?  Well, let’s look at which American Presidents received over 51% of the popular vote in TWO Presidential elections – in order of popularity (envelope please):  Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Andy Jackson, Ulysses Grant, and rounding up the top 5 is Barack Obama!  Are American voters “Anti-American”?

How about our government – all the civilian employees and contractors working for TSA, BATF, INS, Education, Agriculture, State, Commerce, Labor, Post Office, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Reserve, HUD, EPA, IRS, GSA, GAO … – they work for him and carry out his executive orders.  Are they “Anti-American”?  How about the taxpayers who support the government – “Anti-American”?

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How about “the troops”?  Don’t they wipe out 13 year old foreigners and 16 year old Americans on the say-so of prosecutor, judge, jury, and Chief Executioner Obama?  Don’t they drop bombs on Syria, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, etc. on his say so without a declaration of war?  Don’t they snap their heels and salute when HE walks into the room?  Are the troops “Anti-American”?

Of course, Giuliani and McCain think that Obama is “Anti-American” because he hasn’t bombed, sent troops, and messed around in enough countries – Iran, China, Russia, and Ukraine – maybe one day Liechtenstein?  George Washington said that “Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence, she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.” Was Washington Anti-American?

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Now one might ask instead whether Obama is Anti-Liberty?  After all, America was founded in 1776 “to secure our rights” and it is difficult to point out how our liberties have improved under Obama.  As Franklin noted in 1787, the Constitution “can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” As for Presidential powers, Washington noted: “But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” Dead white Protestant slave owners don’t count.

Well, folks, the solar system has traveled 2 light-months around the galaxy since 1776 – that is a long distance. In 2015, Americans who advocate for the 2nd Amendment or the 10th Amendment are put on watch lists. Fight with the TSA over “don’t touch my junk” lands you in jail. Expose NSA spying on Americans and you are Edward Snowden, traitor exiled in Russia.

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And what of the “Tea Party Patriots” who wave their flags, support the troops, and denounce Obama? They (correctly in my opinion) denounce “unelected judges” who want to impose gay marriage but then insist on a “Balanced Budget American” which would remove budgetary authority from the (corrupt Republican) Congress and hand it over to Sonia Sotomayor! If the police SWAT team force an Orthodox Rabbi to perform a transgendered wedding and a sniper shoots a Catholic nun who refuses to perform an abortion, will the Tea Party Patriots applaud the SWAT team and the sniper? If there is a difference between America 1776 and America 2015, you’d better make up your mind! It is as if Sam Adams paraded around with a King George T-Shirt, waving the British flag, and shouting “Support the Redcoats”! You cannot serve both G-d and Mammon, folks!

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In 2012, 99% of Americans chose Gruber-inspired-Romneycare or Gruber-inspired-Obamacare, Leave No Child Behind, Bailouts, Patriot Act, Student Loans, etc. Only 1% voted Libertarian. Barry Goldwater talked about making Social Security optional and he was considered an “extremist nutcase”. The Senators who opposed the (phony) Gulf of Tonkin resolution were promptly defeated. Dissent is allowed but the voters will ignore or denounce you. Grover Cleveland remarked: “The lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and the better lesson taught that while the people should patriotically and cheerfully support their Government, its functions do not include the support of the people.” Cleveland would flop in 2015. America loves its Welfare-Warfare State and in 2015, Obama is the quintessential American.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Pop Quiz for African-American History Month

posted by Jack Kerwick

In honor of African-American History month, let’s take a quiz. In each of the following problems, a famous African-American is quoted.  Identify that person among these answer choices: (a) Jesse Jackson; (b) Jeremiah Wright; (c) Al Sharpton; (d) Louis Farrakhan; (e)Barack Hussein Obama; and (f) Martin Luther King, Jr.

(1)George Washington was undoubtedly valorous.  “But to the end of his days he maintained a posture of exclusionism toward the slave,” and he “was a fourth-generation slaveholder.” Washington “only allowed” blacks “to enter the Continental Army because His Majesty’s Crown was attempting to recruit” blacks “to the British Cause.”

(2)The black American is “the child of two cultures—Africa and America.  The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many” blacks “seek to embrace only one side of their natures.”  Blacks in America are “Afro-American [.]”

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(3) “Colonialism could not have been perpetuated if the Christian Church had really taken a stand against it.”  For example, “the vicious system of apartheid in South Africa” had among “its chief defenders…the Dutch Reformed Protestant Church.”

(4) “If the Church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice” future generations will look back upon it as “one of the greatest bulwarks of white supremacy.”

(5) President Lyndon Banes Johnson had a “comprehensive grasp” of the problems of poverty and civil rights that he faced. He had “sincerity,” “realism,” and “wisdom” in how he approached them.

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(6) Blacks, like everyone else, have “a right to expect the resources of the American trade union movement to be used in assuring” them “of a proper place in American society.”  Young blacks especially “need to think of union careers as earnestly as they do of business careers and professions.”

(7) America maintains “a continued alliance…with racism and exploitation throughout the world.”

(8) Both Marxism and “traditional capitalism” are partially true and partially false.  The former may fail to “see the truth in individual enterprise,” but the latter fails to “see the truth in collective enterprise.”

(9) Communism was “a judgment on” the “failure” of “Western nations…to make democracy real and to follow through on the revolutions that we initiated.”

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(10) The “potential explosiveness of our world situation is much more attributable [than anything else] to disillusionment with promises of Christianity and technology.”

(11) America “is still behind European nations in all forms of social legislation.”

(12) “Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people [the American Indian] of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.”

(13) “The misery of the poor in Africa and Asia” is the “result of years of [Western] exploitation and underdevelopment.”

(14) “We in the West must bear in mind that the poor countries are poor primarily because we have exploited them through political or economic colonialism.  Americans in particular must help their nation repent of her modern economic imperialism.”

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(15) If there is to be “peace on earth,” people’s “loyalties must transcend” not only “race,” “tribe,” and “class,” but “nation.”  This “means [that] we must develop a world perspective.”

(16) “There is nothing new about poverty.  What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it.”  What this implies is that the time is now “for an all-out world war against poverty.  The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed.”

(17) The United Nations is to be applauded, for it is the product of “the fear of war.” 

(18) Since “the destructive power of modern weapons eliminates even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good,” those “who sincerely feel that disarmament is an evil and international negotiation is an abominable waste of time” are sorely mistaken.

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(19) “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

(20) America “must not only radically readjust its attitude toward” blacks; it “must incorporate in its planning some compensatory compensation [“Affirmative Action”] from the handicaps [blacks] inherited from the past.” 

(21) What’s necessary for combating poverty is “a broad-based and gigantic Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, our veterans of the long siege of denial.”

(22) Because America was “born in genocide,” “racial hatred,” and “racial supremacy,” nothing less than “a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values” is demanded. After all, “a nation that put as many Japanese in a concentration camp as” America did during World War II will think nothing of putting “black people in a concentration camp” as well.

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(23) America needs a “revolution of values”—i.e. “democratic socialism.”

(24) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were “at best surface changes.”  Only a “redistribution of economic power” could rectify the injustices inherent in “the system” of “capitalism.”

(25) The Vietnam War was “senseless,” “unjust,” and “racist [.]” In truth, it is America that is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [.]”

*Bonus Question: Which of the foregoing famous African-Americans said this about Ronald Reagan?

That a one-time “Hollywood performer” who lacked “distinction even as an actor” could  “become a leading war hawk candidate for the presidency” had to have been due to a most “melancholy turn of events [.]”  In fact, “only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis” could explain it.

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If you selected “(f),” Martin Luther King, Jr., as your answer to these questions, then you achieved a perfect score!

That’s right: Though some word tenses were changed so as not to date the quotation in question and give away the answer, the hard truth of the matter is that, contrary to what contemporary “conservative” commentators would have you believe, King was obviously about as much of a conservative, to say nothing of a “Reagan conservative,” as any of the other famous black Americans mentioned at the beginning of this article.  His statements, in fact, reveal a man of the hard left, and certainly to the left of Barack Obama.

“The truth,” as Friedrich Nietzsche so simply, yet powerfully, put it, “is hard.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Obama and Our High Horse

posted by Jack Kerwick

It’s a sad commentary on our time that anyone, to say nothing of the President of the United States of America, would so much as think, much less publicly announce, that there is some sort of moral equivalence between the contemporary phenomenon of Islamic barbarity and such oft-cited examples of Western and American injustices as the Crusades, slavery, and Jim Crow.  Some comments are in order.

First, critics who make the “That Was Then, This Is Now,” argument against Obama not only sorely miss the point; they actually legitimize his contention that Christians are guilty of the charge that Obama levels against them.

The truth is that while individual Crusaders, like individual soldiers in every war, were indeed guilty of some horrible things, the Crusades as such were just.  Obama typifies the Christophobe who can’t resist treating the Crusades as an axiomatic instance of Christian villainy while conveniently refusing to mention that they were a response to centuries of Islamic aggression.

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That’s right: For centuries Islamic armies had been conquering Christian lands generally and the Holy Land specifically.  And the invasion into Europe was well underway by the time Urban II issued a call for the first holy war in 1095.

“From the confines of Jerusalem and from the city of Constantinople,” the Pope exclaimed, “a grievous report has gone forth [.]”  The word was indeed “grievous,” for “a race from the kingdom of Persians,” what the Pope characterized as “an accursed race,” “has violently invaded the lands” of Christians “and has depopulated them by pillage and fire.”  These Persians—Muslims—“have led away a part of the captives into their own country, and a part,” he says, “they have killed by cruel tortures.”  Churches had been destroyed and “the kingdom of the Greeks” has been “dismembered” and “deprived of territory so vast in extent that it could not be traversed in two months’ time.”

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Obama is right that the Crusades most certainly were conducted by Christians in the name of Christ.  But unless defending one’s person and property against those who mean to deprive one of them is immoral, the Crusades per se amounted to an eminently just enterprise.  That abuses and even atrocities occurred in the Crusades no more establishes the injustice of the Crusades as such than does the fact that abuses, and even atrocities, occur within marriages and families establish the immorality of marriage and family as such.

Second, slavery had been a global institution from time out of mind.  In the Christian world, and in America, slavery was not conducted “in the name of Christ,” as Obama maintains.  It’s true that slave owners, including and especially Christian slave owners, frequently alluded to the Bible to show that the fanatical abolitionists’ charge that slavery was a sin was unsustainable.  However, many of these same Christian slave holders nevertheless believed that slavery was an evil that needed to be abolished.

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Even still, only a woefully impoverished moral imagination could fail to recognize the relevant differences between, on the one hand, the situation of slavery in which earlier generations of Americans found themselves, to say nothing of the situation of Jim Crow (!) that Americans eradicated more recently, and, on the other, the situation that ISIS and other Islamic jihadists are creating for their victims whenever and wherever they rear their beastly heads.  Indeed, such is the sophomoric character of Obama’s moral vision that it would be laughable if it weren’t so damn offensive—and dangerous:  In one and the same breath, he speaks of both a white segregationist’s refusal to associate with blacks and an Islamic fanatic’s refusal to grant mercy to a person who he instead cages and eventually burns to death.

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Third, more galling than Obama’s historical illiteracy and moral idiocy is his rank hypocrisy.  Though he talks of “we” when implying moral parity between Islamic violence and the violence perpetrated by Christians in the past, Obama most certainly does not mean what he says.  What he is really saying is that you—all of you white Christians—must not shed any of that white guilt that’s paid off so well for the Barack Obamas of the world.

Let’s be frank: Leftists like Obama have been able to perpetuate the fiction—the invidious fiction—that, to paraphrase one of his fellow leftists, the white race is “the cancer” of the planet, by ignoring the evils committed by the world’s peoples of color.  For you see, when the historical conduct of whites is compared with, not contemporary Western standards, but the historical—and present—conduct of all peoples, it becomes crystal clear that the injustices for which whites, and white Christians in particular, are forever being blamed and for which they are forever atoning are common to the human species.

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But more than this, remarkably, it is only among whites, and especially among white Christians, that a genuine moral revulsion of these perennial practices arose.  Whites, especially white Christians, though the majority and the wielders of power in the West, made enormous sacrifices to rectify not just those wrongs that were done to fellow white Christians; but as well those wrongs suffered by non-whites and non-Christians, both in the West and beyond.

Obama and his ilk in the Racism-Industrial-Complex have too much to lose if this dirty little secret gets out.

It is this, more so than anything else, that explains why, in the light of the Islamic savagery on display in the fatal burning of a Jordanian pilot, Obama had to warn us against getting on “our high horse.”  

 

 

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