Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

It’s Tuesday again, and the names of those who died for Jesus continues to be drawn from the record of years past. This week we commemorate the sacrifice of Garrett Dean Eells to the healing power of faith:

Oregon woman fights Idaho faith healing laws

On a serene, windswept hill outside of Boise is a cemetery called Peaceful Valley. It is where some Followers of Christ members bury their dead. Of the more than 550 graves, at least 144 appear to be of children under 18 years old. At least 12 of those children have been buried since 2011, including Garret Dean Eells. The coroner said he died from untreated pneumonia. He was six days old.

KOIN Channel 5 in Portland, Oregon, reports on  a continuing issue. The story concerns members of a church in Oregon City called Followers of Christ. Oregon law previously protected parents who, for religious purposes, did not provide proper medical treatment for their children. In Idaho, where young Garrett Dean Eells died, the same church continues to practice faith healing without fear of legal retribution. Children continue to die.

Is too late for me to get my money back?

Excursion into the absurd

It happened that yesterday I was preparing a post on a running theme I call “Industrial Strength Irony,” and my case study was mega-church pastor Dr. Robert Jeffreys. What was ironic was his “now you say you do, and now you don’t” posture on political civility:

That’s from the Lyrics On Demand, and it’s about sin in No Name City, but let’s pretend the subject is irony. Then here it is, I mean here it is:

This appalling act of violence highlights the fact that the unrelenting demonization of our legitimately elected political leaders could lead to tragedy, and I refer particularly to the mainstream media, our universities, and to Hollywood.

Now is the time to tone it all down, embrace real tolerance, report objectively, and stop provoking our nation to conflict.

And I could see this was so ironic when juxtaposed against his previous attempts at civility. An exemplar of this were the remarks made in a book he published a few years ago. I purchased a copy, a few dollars plus tax, and obtained the quote. And that was done. Then came today, and I have the book, in Kindle edition, on a terabyte computer drive and also on a flash memory card. And  there it sits. Maybe I should read it. I mean, read the entire book and not just the crazy parts. Came lunch today, and I had my soup and my cheese crackers and soda and my Samsung tablet. I decided to start with the first chapter. The title is “Why Study Bible Prophecy.” And I started reading. I read the first paragraph:

Have you ever read the novel Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson? The novella tells the story of a magnificent ocean liner named the Titan that strikes an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York and sinks in the middle of the ocean. You are probably thinking, “This sure does sound like the real story of the Titanic.” Yet Robertson’s novel differs from the actual event in several ways. The ship in Futility was 1,800 feet long while the real Titanic was 1,882 feet long. The Titan was able to displace 66,000 tons of water, while the Titanic was able to displace 70,000 tons of water. Yet both ships were triple-screw ocean liners that could travel up to twenty-five knots per hour and transport three thousand passengers.

Robert, Jeffress. Perfect Ending: Why Your Eternal Future Matters Today (Kindle Locations 45-51). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

And I stopped right there. The part about Titanic being able to transport three thousand passengers is true, if you include the crew. A lot of the rest is not. The real Titanic was 882 feet (and nine inches). It displaced 53,210 tons. And knots per hour is not a meaningful combination of Roman typeface.

Is it too late for me to get my money back?

Given that I purchased the book originally to  obtain the quote in question, and given that this is a book by a writer who believes in a magical person in  the sky and that the “end times” are coming, and people will be teleported away, but only if they truly believe that the magical person  (MP) created people and  instilled in them a made up sin and then sought to punish them for this sin by drowning all but a select family and then impregnated a teenage girl with himself as the zygote and subsequently had himself tortured and killed to absolve all people of the supposed sin he had, himself, invented, after which he came alive again and walked and talked for 40 days before ascending into the sky, and given the remainder of the book is going to be full of this nonsense—should I finish reading it, or should I attempt to return it and get my money back?

I will allow readers to make the decision. I’m posting a link to this on Facebook, and I’m asking readers to let me know by voting on Facebook or in  the comment section below whether I should pay for the sins I inflicted during 76 years on this planet and read the remainder of this book and write a review. My fate is in your hands, readers. Do your worst.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

The Ever-Diminishing List of Those Who Cannot Obtain Life Insurance at any Price

Number 24 in a series

“Days are numbered?” Make that “Days have been counted.” Those devilish Russians may have cashed in on one of the world’s most expensive insurance policies. From Reuters via the Huffington Post:

Russia’s Military Says It May Have Killed ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The airstrike targeted a meeting of ISIS leaders and was carried out on May 28.

Reuters Dmitry Solovyov and Ahmed Rasheed

MOSCOW/BAGHDAD, June 16 (Reuters) – Moscow said on Friday its forces may have killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an air strike in Syria last month, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were skeptical.

The secretive Islamic State leader has frequently been reported killed or wounded since he declared a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from a mosque in Mosul in 2014, after leading his fighters on a sweep through northern Iraq.

If the report does prove true, it would be one of the biggest blows yet to Islamic State, which is trying to defend its shrinking territory against an array of forces backed by regional and global powers in both Syria and Iraq.

Yes, if the report does prove true, then somewhere there is an insurance underwriter standing on the window ledge of a tall building.

President Obama once called Daesh (ISIS) a JV team (junior varsity, second stringer). I have always agreed.

He got a lot of push back from that. So did I when I cast my vote for that sentiment. One person compared Daesh to the Viet Cong of 50 years ago. It was pointed out that we failed to defeat the VC. I begged to differ:

  • The VC were effectively finished in 1968. We fought the NVA from that point on.
  • The NVA  was not a JV team. They had SAMs and jet fighters. North Vietnam was a client state of the Soviet Union. Even though, like Daesh, North Vietnam did not produce its own weapons of war, it received a steady supply, apparently gratis.
  • To the contrary, Daesh does not have territory of its own. It currently occupies territory claimed by two well-armed nations, Syria and Iraq. One, Syria, is unable to combat Daesh effectively. The other, Iraq, appears unwilling.
  • Additionally, Daesh, unlike North Vietnam, does not produce anything on its own. Everything must be imported.

If Daesh does not qualify as a JV team, who does?

And as I mentioned when I posted this a year and a half ago, the death of al-Baghdadi and his minions does not mean it is safe to go in the water again. There are points still in play:

  • The idea—that modern, industrial, states dominate the world to the detriment of developing countries—tugs powerfully at the minds of a broad base for recruitment. Lack of a geographical base (Syria and Iraq) will not slacken this pull.
  • Syria—Iraq is no long in play in this respect— will cease to be a base for training and arming of international combatants. The dirty work can continue without this base. In prior times recognized states, Libya for example, served this purpose. There is still Iran, no friend of the world elite and inclined to assert its presence in whatever means are available.
  • Daesh is ideologically driven and in modern times can operate in the info-sphere. Militants who never meet can inspire, organize,  motivate, direct. On any given day a thoroughly indoctrinated actor can leave his rundown apartment with blood on his brain and a weapon—gun, car keys—in his hand, with no plans for the following  day.

The ultimate root of the matter is an institutional and cultural divide and not religion. As such it cannot pulled out without first addressing the divide. Doing that is above my pay grade. There will be more on this later. Keep reading.

Friday Funny

Number 63 of a series

I woke up this morning, and it was after 5 o’clock, so I’m getting a late start. Along about 8 I  realized I did not have a Friday Funny post, so I started feeling panicked.

Ha! What a crock. I have a ready source of Friday Funny’s, and that source would be our collection of Christian historical revisionists. Let’s start with Aledo, Texas‘, own Joe Barton:

David [Barton]:

That’s right.

God Is In Control Of The Weather

Another one I’ll throw out is weather. It’s interesting in the Bible, weather patterns are often predicated on whether the people doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And if people sin against God, then you get floods, and you get storms, you get lightning, you get all your crops get destroyed, you get all sorts of things-

Yes, you heard it right. Pseudo historian Joe Barton is telling us this planet’s weather is not solely driven by natural forces. There is an invisible person, somewhere, who is devilishly concerned with every aspect of human life and who puts a finger  on the scale from time to time to tip the consequences and to remind everybody he (she) is in control. This in lieu of posting a notice in The Wall Street Journal, which would be much less expensive.

For those disinclined to follow the link, here is some background. The foregoing is from the transcript of a WallBuilders podcast that aired 13 June 2017. The podcast is titled Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order Is Better Than You Might Think, and guests include Mat Staver, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton. David Barton “is the founder of WallBuilders, LLC, a Texas-based organization that promotes unorthodox views about the religious basis of the United States.”

And if all of this were not the least bit scary it would be very funny.

Industrial Strength Irony

Number 4 In A Series

Full disclosure: I subscribe to Robert Jeffress’s newsletter, and there are periods when I receive almost daily mailings in my inbox.

You wanna embrace the golden calf?
Ankle, and thigh, and upper half?
Here it is!
I mean, here it is!

That’s from the Lyrics On Demand, and it’s about sin in No Name City, but let’s pretend the subject is irony. Then here it is, I mean here it is:

This appalling act of violence highlights the fact that the unrelenting demonization of our legitimately elected political leaders could lead to tragedy, and I refer particularly to the mainstream media, our universities, and to Hollywood.

Now is the time to tone it all down, embrace real tolerance, report objectively, and stop provoking our nation to conflict.

By “Yesterday at 10:22 a.m.” is meant 1022 on 14 June 2017. That was the day a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice session at a park in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressman Steve Scalise, representing the Louisiana 1st congressional district was severely wounded. Others were also shot or injured, including two police officers. The police killed the gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, a vocal opponent of President Trump and, presumably, at odds with the Republican Congress. The Robert Jeffress Facebook posting also included the following:

Pastor Robert Jeffress: Time to Stop “Demonization of Legitimately Elected Public Officials”

And that’s what is so ironic:

For the first time in history a president of our country has openly proposed altering one of society’s (not to mention God’s) most fundamental laws: that marriage should be between a man and a woman. While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.

Robert, Jeffress. Perfect Ending: Why Your Eternal Future Matters Today (Kindle Locations 1073-1077). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

That was from 2014. Some elaboration may be helpful:

Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book Perfect Ending that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.

We are thankful Dr. Jeffress is not saying President Obama is actually the Antichrist. That said, we are surprised he did not. Robert Jeffress is not famous for pulling punches:

(CNN) — A pastor with a long history of inflammatory remarks about Muslims, Mormons, Catholics and gays preached at a private service for President-elect Trump and his family on Friday, shortly before Trump took the oath of office.

The pastor, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, is a Southern Baptist who vigorously campaigned for Trump during the final months of the presidential election and is a member of his evangelical advisory board. “I love this guy!” Trump has said of Jeffress. Before the campaign, Trump, a Presbyterian, had no apparent connection to the pastor, who leads First Baptist Church in Dallas.

Can we expect Robert Jeffress to tone down his remarks in the future? Not likely. That would constitute Industrial Strength Irony.

This isn’t over. I will have more to say about Dr. Robert Jeffress, so keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Tuesday again, and Jesus has taken another innocent life to quench his blood lust. This time it’s 8-year old Clayton Nixon enjoying the embrace of the heavenly one:

Blair couple’s faith healing appeal denied

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

By Tom Gibb, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. — The U.S. Supreme Court said yesterday that it won’t hear the appeal of a Blair County couple who spurned medicine, put their trust in faith healing and lost two of their 13 children to treatable illnesses.

Barring a last-resort appeal, Dennis and Lorie Nixon will go off sometime in the next 30 days to spend 21/2 to five years in state prisons, leaving behind their Hollidaysburg-area house and 10 children still living at home.

Clayton died of a treatable ear infection. His parents were sentenced to  125 hours of community service. Blessed be the ways of the Lord.

Friday Funny

Number 62 of a series

I am told God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. Sometimes I  think God has a sense of humor:

Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people

He has also claimed that paedophilia is a ‘homosexual problem’

A flood has destroyed the home of a Christian lobbyist who preached that God sends natural disasters to punish gays.

President of the controversial Christian group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, described a deluge of “near biblical proportions” hitting his Louisiana home.

During a broadcast on the group’s radio station, he told how he and his family had fled in a canoe.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Perkins, and also a little advice. Quit hanging out with those queer friends.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 23 in a series

Our adventures with a schlemiel president continue, much to the delight of many. I being one of the many. So, what’s the latest? ABC World News Tonight with David Muir has the story from Monday:

For the second consecutive day, President Trump assailed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response to terror attacks, misinterpreting the mayor’s call for residents to remain calm as police stepped up anti-terror patrols.

Our President dug himself deeper.

Asked to explain, Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders proved less than transparent:

ABC’s Jonathan Karl sparred with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders during Monday’s White House press briefing over President Donald Trump‘s Twitter posts that targeted the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

“Why is the President picking a fight with the mayor of London right after his city was hit by a terrorist attack?” Karl wondered.

Sanders replied, “I don’t see that the President is picking a fight with the mayor of London at all. I think, again, the President’s point is something he said…a year and a half ago, when the President talked about how we have to be more committed to national security. One of the reasons we have the travel ban here through that executive order is a focus on national security.”

Karl followed up by directly challenging one of Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts: “But the President was saying — the mayor said there was no reason to be alarmed by the terrorist attack. That is not what the mayor said. The mayor, in fact, said that the threat level remains severe. The chances of another attack are highly likely. He was saying, don’t be alarmed by the armed police presence on the street. And the President directly misrepresented what the mayor of London said.”

And she had a bit more to say that is interesting:

The White House flack shot back, “I don’t think that’s actually true. I think that the media wants to spin it that way.”

Yes, “the media wants to spin it that way.” Call me a hick from the sticks if you want to, but “spin” is usually associated with a degree of misdirection. A rational viewer will come away with no doubt the schlemiel-in-chief took part of what the mayor had to say and formed his own version. Then he employed his own version to spank the mayor. That qualifies as spin.

London’s mayor is a Muslim, which is significant. For the past 1000 years all other London mayors have been either Christian or pretend Christian. Again, a rational viewer will take away that this mayor is calling it what it is and is not having bullshit from an American  president. Mayor Sadiq Khan announced he has more on his plate than dealing with Donald Trump:

… but until now Khan had calmly responded he “has better and more important things to focus on than” to waste his time responding to the president of the united states…

Mayor Khan also suggested Donald Trump’s state visit to  the U.K. be canceled. Good for them, not so good for us.

Trump News

Could be a new series

Did I mention I subscribe to Trump News? Yes, it turns out I did mention it. Here’s an excerpt:

I subscribe to an email newsletter from EnVolve.com. The sender is listed as Trump News, but it is not likely the President-elect is in any way involved with Trump News. Where to get started? How about with a recent story from En-Volve:

Career Felon Killed In Shootout By 13-Year-Old During Home Invasion

That was five months ago. I’ve been neglecting this valuable resource, and I’m correcting that now. From a recent email:

Michigan Residents Have UNEXPECTED Reaction When Court Announces They Have DENIED New Muslim Mosque

Many of these towns were formerly Christian, or wanted little to do with any religion.

But, thanks to “politically correct” policies, they’ve had no choice but to suffer the advance of Sharia Law, a system and ideology totally incompatible with American values.

Finally, there are some towns that have had enough.

This town in Michigan courageously said NO when Muslims wanted to plant a new mosque there. And watch how local residents reacted.

That’s from a link in the email. It’s worth some diagnosis. Some Skeptical Analysis. Start with the headline:

Michigan Residents Have UNEXPECTED Reaction When Court Announces They Have DENIED New Muslim Mosque

I am left to puzzle why the headline needs to emphasize the residents’ reaction–unexpected. I’m reading this on En-Volve.com, apparently a conservative site, so I’m trying to figure out why the reaction from citizens of Sterling Heights, MI, is unexpected. I will have to be satisfied with being  puzzled. But, as the headline shouts, the new mosque has been denied. The Detroit News has a more lengthy and clear-headed take on the matter, dating back from 14 March. Better read that to get a better understanding. Apparently an initial  ruling held that the mosque could be built, but then citizens opposed to the mosque sued.

The En-Volve item was published yesterday, and it links to a video centering on the planning board’s most recent decision. The permit to build the mosque was denied by a 9 to 0 vote. A Google search does not turn up additional  reference to this breaking news.

The complaint filed against the mosque cited things like traffic and size of the structure, and that was the ruling of the zoning board. But the cheering crowds seem to express emotions beyond zoning issues. The flavor of the En-Volve piece is indicative of the crowd’s reaction. It contains no mention of zoning:

One mosque at a time, American towns are being overrun by Islam.

This is wholly at odds with a statement by Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor. From  the video:

Sterling Heights has a solid reputation for inclusiveness and tolerance reflected in a wide variety of places of worship across the city.

Mayor, I was not able to discern inclusiveness and tolerance from the people in  the video. And the tone of the En-Volve item was wall-to-wall anti-Muslim, concluding:

This town in Michigan courageously said NO when Muslims wanted to plant a new mosque there. And watch how local residents reacted.

“Muslims wanted to plant a new mosque there.” [Emphasis added] The word “plant” connotes staking a flag at a forward line of troops in a battle. The episode is cast as a battle. My take? It’s supposed to be a battle between Christianity and Islam. En-Volve evokes Christian values being undermined by a rival religion and the need to counter an invasion.

There is a take-away. This is becoming representative of American conservatism. Conservatism, and by implication the Republican Party, is becoming the party of correct religion versus incorrect religion. American  conservatism has come to  this point. There are not many other ways to spell “Fascism.”

Who am I to talk. I wouldn’t want a mosque built in my town. Nor a cathedral nor a temple. All those people are just crazy, and I’m hoping some day they will get some sense and quit doing this shit. I was also hoping to get a new Ferrari for Christmas.

Lotz Wife

A recurring appearance

Anne Graham Lotz “is an American Christian evangelist. She is the second daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife Ruth Graham. She founded AnGeL Ministries, and is the author of 11 books, of which her best known is Just Give Me Jesus.” She is also a bottomless well of merriment for those who enjoy hanging around the fringes of modern religion and banging at the low-hanging fruit. For example:

Anne Graham Lotz Says God Sends Terror Attacks Because Of Bathroom Rights And Evolution

By Ed Mazza

Terror attacks such as 9/11 and the mass shooting in San Bernardino were allowed by God because of the gay rights movement and the acceptance of evolution, evangelist Anne Graham Lotz said.

“Our nation seems to be shaking its fist in God’s face and telling him to get out of our politics, get out of our schools, get out of our businesses, get out of our marketplace, get off the streets,” Lotz told conservative radio host Steve Deace, according to audio posted online by Right Wing Watch. “It’s just stunning to me the way we are basically abandoning God as a culture and as a nation.”

When that happens, “God abandons us and he backs away and takes his hand of favor, blessings, His hand of protection away from us and he abandons us,” she said.

This, of course, causes me much anguish. Who would have thought the gay rights movement had such dire consequences. All those queers out there ought to pay heed and reflect on the damage they are bringing on us straight people. And evolution? Yes, evolution. Mrs. Lotz, the recent product of an ancient lineage of ape-like humanoids, wants to disavow her upwardly mobile ancestors, without whose hard-scrabble persistence she would not now have the opportunity to denounce  them.

She recently appeared on the Steve Deace radio talk show to discuss her new book, The Daniel Prayer. I’m not tempted to purchase the book and do a review, but a copy of the introduction is on-line. It’s a few pages, and it concludes:

And there’s only one solution.

When faced with God’s righteous judgment, there is nothing . . . nothing . . . no politics or president, no government or agreement, no institution or organization, no media or ministry, no economy or military, no alliance or treaty . . . nothing will turn our nation around except prayer.

Heartfelt, desperate prayer. Prayer where the pray-ers rend their hearts, return to the Cross, and repent of personal and national sin. Only prayer that moves Heaven can change a nation.

And that’s the Daniel Prayer

Contact me if you are unable to obtain a copy of the intro for yourself.

I have to admit this is a whole side of human existence foreign to me, and I will not attempt to comprehend it. This I do suspect, and I am paraphrasing others:

God is all knowing, all seeing, and all powerful. He has a plan.

Prayer is a device employed by people to tell  God he is mistaken, and he should do something else instead.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.