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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Saturday, 29 November 2008
Positive prayers for those elected and in authority
Topic: Positive prayers and posi

I write this entry in response to e-mails I have been receiving lately from various Republican, conservative and "Christian" organizations.  These e-mails have been attempting to sabotage President-elect Obama's program now, even before he takes office, essentilly cursing him before he has a chance to do anything. 

As I stated in earlier posts, I am a Christian (though I believe Mr. Obama is, too) and have been a Republican since my very first vote.  Nevertheless, I believe the recent American tradition of imediately cursing the winner if he or she is not one of "us" is totally inappropriate and is a source of real problems. 

God never tells us to curse those in power if they don't tow "our" party line.

Instead, he tells us to pray FOR them, ALL of them.  We are to be thankful for ALL in authority, and to pray for God's positive work in their personal lives and official decisions.  I Timothy 2:1-3.  I've applied this to Mr. Obama in an earlier posting, but I believe the point bears repetition in light of the volume of poisonous e-mail I have been receiving about him.

Moreover, I believe we must apply the point to ALL those in authority, and perhaps particularly those "we" don't like.

Paul said to give thanks for all in authority--even when the Emperor was Nero.  If we look hard enough, there is SOMETHING for which we can give thanks about any official.  It is precisely these matters for which we can be thankful for which we SHOULD be looking, rather than the evil things or the things that anger us.  Our focus should always be on the things that are right, pure, lovely and noble, even about our enemies!  Philippians 4:8.

Paul said to intercede for all those in authority.  We sould be lifting them up personally, seeking God's protection and blessing on them.  We should likewise be lifting up their families--which are under attack simply because of their office.  For those who profess a knowledge of God, through Christ jesus, we should be praying that God would increase their love and their knowledge of Him.  For those who do not profess--or even oppose--Christ, we should be praying that God would bring them to faith in himself.  As I wrote in my earlier piece about praying for Mr. Obama, God treats even those in high office first as individuals, then as officeholders.  We should pray for them first as individuals, for the growth of their relationship with God, starting from wherever it is today.  And we should recognize that God usually draws us closer to Him by showing his goodness, rather than by showing harsh judgment.  It is the kindness of God that leads us to salvation.   Romans 2:4.

Paul also said to offer petitions and prayers for those in authority.  We should pray FOR the SUCCESS of their policies.  Of course, we can and should pray that God would give them wisdom in their official decisions.  but we should be prepared for those decisions not always to be exactly what our wisdom, our our party line, says they should be.  God doesn't always work in the ways we expect.  God doesn't always work even in ways that are comprehensible to us, and His plans operate on an eternal time line we can't even see.  His plan to solve the problems we see may not "fix" them tomorrow.  

All of this is to be applied to all those in authority. 

Thus, I now declare that I personally recognize that this applies to the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court.  I wrote in an earlier posting that I planned to vote against the two of them who were on the ballot in the retention election four weeks ago.  But now that they have been reatined, it is my duty to support them, to give thanks for them, and to pray for them.  This does not imply anything about my vote in the next retention election.  But while they are in office, I must support them.


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 12:22 AM EST
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Abandoning cynicism
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

For many years, I have been cynical about the world, those in power, my interaction with the world, and even God sometimes.  In my personal experiences, and my observations of the way the world works, I thought I had adequate reasons for my deep cynicism.

Indeed, I once operated a website that had a title that summed up my attitude quite nicely:  "Pessimists International."  Even my humor was cynically pessimistic and often sarcastic.  I really expected things to go badly, especially for me. Then again, a few months ago I announced that I would soon post, but never actually started to post, a series of satirical pieces on political issues.

I won't say that things have changed for me completely, overnight.  At the core, I am still cynical.    But I have started to realize that not everything is bad. The whole world isn't stacked against me, and against us. God is not against me, and He still has good plans for the people in this world who will believe and follow Him.   What's more, He is fully able to carry out those plans in His own time, which usually isn't mine, or ours.

Because God is still doing His thing in the world, and He is good, there are also still some good people in the world.  I haven't entirely abandoned my cynicism, but I'm actually trying now not to be entirely cynical. Hence, my recent call to pray for soon-President Obama, to pray positively for him as a man and for his family, not just for his agreement on political issues--and to believe that God will act in and through him.  Complete cynicism is incompatible with a God who is good and can do anything.




Posted by ian_j_site2 at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2008 7:54 PM EST
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Crustacean humor and Topeka wall art
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: F unAQs

A gym is where you shell out clams to build mussels.

If all the world's mine oyster, like Shakespeare said, it's opening to me at a snail's pace.

Here are two pictures of some interesting wall art found on a commercial building near 17th and Washburn in Topeka, Kansas. Doesn't the king's scepter resemble a muffler and tail pipe?



Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:10 PM EST
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Yes, there is hope!

Most of my recent past predictions have, at least on the surface, been gloomy.  These predictions developed from my October 8, 2000 prediction of a coming economic collapse. This prediction was based on two observations: 1) the observation that we as a people, and, more particularly, we as the Church of Jesus Christ, have been idolatrous in our dependence on our governmental, corporate and financial institutions; and 2) the scriptural observation that God always responds to the idolatry of His people by destroying the idols.  I am quite certain that I was hearing the Holy Spirit in making this prediction, and nothing in the subsequent eight years has shown me to have been wrong.  Economic idols have been falling lately!

However, God doesn't give warnings of destruction simply to frighten us and leave us no hope.  He gives us these warnings so that we will return to Him.  There is always hope, always a way to escape to Him. So it is with my October 2008 prediction.  I would remind my readers of what I wrote eight years ago:

 In North America, in particular, unless God's spoiled people there repent of their idolatry, an economic collapse is coming soon. It will destroy the web of economic and governmental institutions upon which the elect have heretofore falsely relied. It will be so complete that even the governments of North America will be unable, through their social programs, to begin to provide for the massive needs that will suddenly present themselves. At that time, the Church must be ready to supply these needs in Jesus' name. This will require supernatural provision on a large scale. The Church will need all of the power of God displayed and all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in full operation. It will become clear to everyone that only God is our provider.

Seven years go, I added this comment:

The collapse has not yet come, but it is certainly coming, unless the CHURCH repents...

However, there is some good news. When the collapse occurs, it will force Christians to repair some of the major problems of the visible Church. There will be no more playing church as usual. Desperate people will desperately seek after God. Since most of us will no longer have the means of transportation to reach our denominational churches across town, on the edge of town or in the suburbs, we will be forced to cooperate with Christians in our own neighborhoods and to reach out to, and take some responsibility for, our neighbors. Because of the intense need all around us, the church will become more than a place where we go to sing a few songs, hear a sermon and have some superficial friendships. It will become a place we habitually go to find real friendship, brotherhood and help in our very real distress. It will be our common means of survival, and, because of this, great unity will develop.

We could avert the disaster by repenting and moving in this direction voluntarily. Unfortunately, I do not see this happening. We are still too wed to our church, governmental and business organizations.

The way out of this is now, as it always has been, for we who believe in Christ to repent of our idolatry, look to God for our provision, and start working together as the Church. In 2001, I did not believe this would happen unless it was forced to occur by a very deep, long and painful economic collapse. Now, I see some hope that it might occur more quickly.

Recently, I have been reading some of the predictions of Kim Clement. These predictions encourage me to believe that the collapse may not a prolonged affair, and that the Church in America is now in the process of repenting of its faith in the economy, coming to faith in God, and coming together. In 2005, Mr. Clement accurately and specifically predicted the "Banking Crash." He also appears to have predicted the election of Barack Obama last March, and said not to fear him, he is God's man for the job. He is now stating, in the following articles or web pages, that the collapse has accomplished its purpose and is now nearly over:

Prophecy in the News.

October 18, 2008: Kim's Prophetic Insight Regarding the Economy.

November 2, 2008: Prophecy about the election and the future of America.

February 2, 2008: Do Not be Disheartened About the Elections.

One final point needs to be made. When God restores our fortunes, whenever that happens, it will clearly be God's work, in response to the repentance of His Church. The natural result of our nation's many years of economic idolatry and insanity is, as I have previously explained, hyperinflationary economic collapse followed by a prolonged depression and enslavement. Even secular economic experts appear to agree with this assessment. If we escape these natural consequences, the cause will plainly be supernatural.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:25 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 8 November 2008 8:58 AM EST
Thursday, 6 November 2008
It is time to pray for our new President-elect, NOT curse him

Christians, it is now time to pray for Barack Obama, our new President-elect, not to curse him because he doesn't agree with "us" on every point of our agenda.

Note carefully--I said we should pray for him, not for his agreement with us on the issues.  What matters is Barack Obama, the man, not his current public stand on the issues.  If we, as a Church, properly support the man, God will take care of the issues.  God always works with and upon individual people, not institutions or issues.  Jesus died for Barack Obama, not for the abortion political issue!

What authority do I have in urging prayer for Barack Obama?

I Timothy 2:1-3 says:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

This passage is often misread today, in exactly the same way I often  misread it in the past.  We are told that it says that we should pray for government policies that will advance the Kingdom.  But that is not what it says.  It says we should be offering petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving (!!!) for the persons of kings and other people in authority.  (Note that Paul wrote this during the reign of the Emperor Nero, who was not exactly an enlightened monarch.)  If God is working with and through the persons in charge of the country, the results will be right for Christians and the Kingdom.  Public stands on the issues are a secondary matter.

So, if we are to pray for President-elect (and soon to be President) Obama, what are some things we can pray for?

We can thank God for his apparent openness and willingness to learn (which I am convinced is mostly real, not faked).

We can thank God that he has publicly stated that he believes in Jesus Christ (once again, I believe this profession to be real, in spite of disagreements on some political issues).

We can thank God for his apparently stable marriage and devotion to his family.

We can pray for his safety from those who have already announced or secretly harbor plans to kill him.  We can pray that he will be delivered from wicked and violent people.

We can pray that God would give him wisdom, both for his official acts and for his personal life, and that he would continue to listen and that his ability to hear and listen to God's wisdom will grow.

We can pray that he would be given the key he so greatly desires for overcoming racial hatred in this country, and would recognize it when he finds it.  In this matter, his desire is God's own heart. 

We can pray that he will continue to develop his relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and that the pressures of his new office will not interfere with this.  Stated another way, we can pray that he would continue to grow in his knowledge of Christ and be rooted and grounded in His love.

 We can pray that his relationship with his wife and family would be preserved through his time in office and continue to grow.

 Once again, what really matters is his relationship with Christ, not his agreement with "Christian" political positions.  If the President's relationship with God is growing, God will take care of the country.   

For historical examples of this,  see my recent pre-election post McCain, Obama, and who is in control: A tale of four kings and a priest.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 9:23 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 6 November 2008 10:20 PM EST
Monday, 3 November 2008
An election day reminder of my past predictions
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

This election day, I want to remind my readers of my past predictions:

1.  On October 8, 2000--almost a month before President Bush was elected--I predicted BOTH the general downward course the economy has taken ever since AND the fact that the process would end with a major collapse.  The prediction was made before President Bush was in office and was based on factors that had nothing to do with him.  See the web page making the original prediction, A Warning Against Idolatry, and the more recent posting on this blog collecting predictions consistent with it, OK, I'm not alone in my predictions.

2.  Also in 2000, I stated that God would take care of His own through whatever collapse occurred, on the page God Says, Trust Me with the Frightening Future.

3.  In February 2003, before the war with Iraq began, I predicted that it would be unwinnable, on both historical and prophetic grounds, in Notes on the King of Babylon and the Peace of Jerusalem.

4.  On September 18 of this year, I predicted that prices would be held down artificially until shortly after the election, but would start to increase explosively sometime between then and the first of the year.  I also predicted that gasoline prices would pass $5 per gallon shortly after the election.  See the posts I predicted the current economic times before President Bush was elected (September 18) and the further explanation in Repudiation of the Dollar or hyperinflation: what the collapse will look like. 

5.  Also since mid-September of this year, I proposed an obvious solution to the credit crisis ( A humane proposal for the credit bailout:  Provide relief to average debtors) but also pointed out in the next post that the government had already decided not to do it that way. (I note that, even today, the final shape of the bailout is still somewhat up in the air, but that its likelihood of providing much real relief to ordinary debtors, or of making any real structural reform in the way debt is marketed and used, is very small).

Finally, in my last post, I explained why, in spite of all of the above, I should not be afraid of the election outcome.

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 10:48 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 25 January 2009 3:24 PM EST
Thursday, 30 October 2008
McCain, Obama, and who is in control: A tale of four kings and a priest

In recent posts, I've said that some of Sen. McCain's foreign policy statements scare me, that some things said about Sen. Obama scare me, and that many of my friends believe that abortion and immorality will explode and we will lose all of our constitutional rights if he is elected.  Yet I recognize that I should not be afraid. 


It's because the President is not really the one in control, whether his name is Bush, McCain or Obama.  God is.  And God is able to exert His ultimate control in the world even through very bad kings.  I'll give you four examples, directly out of the Bible. 

The first king is King Saul, whose story is told at I Samuel 10 through 16 and I Samuel 31.  God chose Saul to be king. I Samuel 10:1.  Shortly thereafter, God put a new heart in Samuel, and he prophesied.  I Samuel 10:9-11.  Nevertheless, as king, Saul rebelled against God.  Because he was in a hurry to fight a battle and feared his army would slip away if he waited for the prophet and priest Samuel to arrive to offer sacrifices to God, Saul offered the sacrifices himself.  I Samuel 13:7-12.  Later, Saul kept some of the livestock of the Amalekites for himself, when told to destroy utterly.  I Samuel 15.  Because these two incidents of rebellion showed that Saul preferred doing things his own way rather than listening to God, God said he would take the kingdom away from Saul and give it to another better than him.  I Samuel 13:13-14 & 15:26-29.  After that, for the rest of his life, Saul became paranoid, a cruel oppressor of his own friends, and ultimately turned to witchcraft for answers.  He died in battle, and God repalced him with David.  Though imperfect, David was a "man after God's own heart," who listened when God spoke and changed his course when God corrected him.  King Saul demonstrates that, when even a ruler specially appointed by God rejects God's leadership, God is well able to replace him.

The second king is King Manasseh of Judah.  Manasseh's story is told in I Chronicles 33.  Manasseh was the son born late in life to a very good king, King Hezekiah.  Manasseh took the throne at a young age, and rejected evertything good of what his father had done.  For most of his reign, Manasseh was evil, a very wicked king who placed idols in the temple of God, instituted the sacrifice of children to idols in Judah--even sacrificing his own son in the fire--and caused the people of Judah and Jerusalem "to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land."  I Chronicles 33:9.  God first repeatedly warned Manasseh and the people, then, when they ignored his warnings, sent an invading army from Assyria to strip the land and take its leaders, including Manasseh, hostage. 

However, in prison in Babylon, a miraculous thing happened.  "While in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God, and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors."  I Chronicles 33:12.  God responded to Manasseh's repentance, and restored him to the throne in Judah.  "Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!"  I Chronicles 33:13.  During the last years of his reign, Manasseh cleaned up the idol worship and was a good king.  So God is able to get the attention of bad kings and bring them to repentance.

The priest is Caiaphas.  Caiaphas was a member of the priestly family of Aaron, but he was also a corrupt political appointee of the Roman occupiers of Judea. He had the dubious honor of being the elected High Priest in the year Jesus became a great problem for the ruling classes in Judea generally.  In John 11: 45-53, we are told that, immediately after Jesus became a very serious threat to the religious leaders of Judea by raising Lazarus very openly from the deadthe rulers called a council to discuss what to do with Jesus.  The leadersbelieved this discussion necessary because, by raising the dead,  Jesus had placed himself on a par with the great prophets Elijah and Elisha in the eyes of the masses.  The rulers therefore feared that soon "everyone" (the leaders excepted, of course) would believe and follow him, and the Romans would be forced to destroy the Jewish nation and its temple to quell the resulting revolt.  

At this point, the cowardly, unbelieving, pragmatic Caiaphas gave this advice:  "You don't know what you're talking about!  You don't realize that it's better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed."  After that, the Council agreed that Jesus should die.  Caiaphas had advised them to commit the greatest injustice of human history.  

However, what does the Apostle John say about Caiaphas' advice?  John says, "He [Caiaphas] did not say this on his own; as High Priest at that time, he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation.  And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world."  Man's greatest injustice was also God's greatest victory, and God used Caiaphas to prophesy it--to speak it into existence in his office as High Priest.

The third king is King Cyrus the Mede.   In Isaiah 44:28-45:7, God calls Cyrus his "Shepherd" and his "anointed one" for the purpose of rebuilding Jerusalem, and describes the power he will give Cyrus over other nations.  In the same verses, God repeats twice that He will use Cyrus in this way, "even though you do not know me." God can direct kings who do not even acknowledge him to do what He wants done.

The fourth king is King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar was the king who destroyed what remained of Solomon's Temple and finally took Judah into full captivity.  He did so with great and excessive barbarity.  He slaughtered many Jews (and many from other nations he conquered as well).  If anyone has ever deserved God's full wrath, it was Nebuchadnezzar.

However, God kept working with him.  The story of exactly how God kept working with him is told in Daniel 2 through 4.  Daniel, one of the Jewish captives in his court, interpreted a dream for him that no one else could interpret, in which God showed Nebuchadnezzar a brief history of the kingdoms of the world.  Later, when three of Daniel'd frinds wouldn't worship Nebuchadnezzar's golden idol, he had them thrown in the fire--only to come out unharmed after meeting in the fire with one the king described as looking "like a son of God." 

But when both of these incidents failed to flly get this king's attention, God sent him another troubling dream, which Daniel interpreted for him.  The dream was a warning that, because Nebuchadnezzar continued to think of himself as a self-made man, and his power and wealth as things he gained by himself and for himself, God was going to take away his sanity for a time, until he acknowledged God.  One year later, Nebuchadnezzar went insane, and lived in the fields like an animal for a period of time.  Then it says Nebuchadnezzar "looked up to heaven" and his sanity was restored when he "praised and worshiped the Most High."  He acnowledged that "the most high is sovereign over the kigdoms on earth, and gives them to anyone he wishes," setting up over them "even the basest of men" exactly as he chooses.

And that is why I should not fear the outcome of this election.       




Posted by ian_j_site2 at 8:03 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 3 November 2008 12:33 AM EST
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Either a complete undeserved demonization or a chilling warning!

The following is an e-mail forwarded to me by a friend today.  It is either a complete, undeserved demonization of an honest man, or a bloodchilling warning of what's to come.  My impression has always been that Barack Obama is an honest man.  I sure hope I'm right!


 I received the following email an hour or so ago.  I checked Snopes and there is no report for it.  I emailed the writer to verify and he has verified it to me.  For that reason, I am forwarding it.


It is now 2:55 pm on Monday afternoon.  15 minutes ago, I left Cracker Barrel after eating a late lunch.  While enjoying a southern cooked meal, I noticed the John McCain tour bus pull in the parking lot.  In  a few minutes a very clean cut man in his early 60's (??) got off the bus and came into the restaurant, only to be seated a few tables from where I was. He is the personal bus driver for John McCain, who is arriving into Fayetteville, NC on Tuesday.  As I was leaving I stopped at his table to engage on some small political talk.  What he told me was a shocker.

First, I politely waited until he had prayed over his meal.  As we began to talk, he said, "Sir, the only thing that is going to turn this election is PRAYER.  I found that interesting .  His name was recently in the news regarding the front windshield of the tour bus being shot out.  While it was not his bus, the news had only assumed he was the driver.   He went on to say, "If our opponent wins this election, count it over for America.  It will be the Bolshevic Revolution all over again.   You will need to get ready for riots, uprisings, and attacks like you have never seen".   He further said, "at the Republican Convention, the secret service stopped cars that had Moltov cocktails, grenade lauchers, rocket propelled launchers and other weapons."  I ask, "why has this not then been in the news".  His response was, "the liberal press is controlling this election and they don't want this kind of information in the news".

As I was leaving again he offered this plea for help, "only prayer will change this election.  If McCain is not elected, then perhaps America is at the beginning of reaping the judgements of God and what she deserves".

Lunch hour is now over, I am back at the office and I think I will head to the sanctuary to PRAY about this.

Quite an interesting lunch hour.


R. Barnhill


Can you verify that you are the sender of the enclosed email, and what city/state this Cracker Barrell/lunch/dialogue with bus driver occurred in?  What date did this conversation occur?  I can’t forward it if I can’t confirm it.  Thank you for your time.


From: RevRBarnhill@aol.com [mailto:RevRBarnhill@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 4:00 PM
To: worshipGod@cox.net
Subject: Re: verify

I am receiving emails from all over the country.  This did happen to me yesterday at the Cracker Barrel in Lumberton, NC.  McCain is in Fayetteville, NC as I write.




Posted by ian_j_site2 at 9:34 PM EDT
Why I'm STILL not thrilled about my choices in this election
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

Since my schedule and my computer are both somewhat erratic these days, this entry will probably be my last shot at the election.

I'm still not very thrilled with the choices.  I haven't (and won't) tell my readers who I plan to vote for next week. But I will explain again my problems with the election.

1.  First and foremost, I have a problem with both candidates because they are advertising (some would say "promising," but I know better) big plans they must KNOW they will not be able to afford to implement.  I have read what both major candidates are saying, in the official words of their own websites.  Sen. Obama has posted a summary of his whole domestic program in a single document at,  Blueprint for Change.  Sen. Mccain has posted a summary of his economic program on one web page, and a summary of his health care reform plan on a second web page, both with links to additional details.  But both of them are aware, I'm sure, that with an economic depression looming and the government already committed to a $700 billion bailout this year in addition to its regular budget, it will be many years before there will be any resources available to fund their promises.

2.  Both candidates have economic reform plans that don't really address the underlying problem of the way debt is marketed and used in this country--by lenders to consumers and, on a different level, by politicians writing Federal budgets.  Sen. Obama at least has some reform aimed at predatory lending practices.  But neither one really seems to understand the problem.

3.  Neither canditate has proposed a health care reform package that will help me very much.  Sen. McCain wants to open up individual policies so that individuals--as a matter of economic reality, young, healthy individuals--may leave group plans and purchase cheaper individual policies in the states where they are cheapest.  This will leave older and sicker people in the group plans, or in partially-subsidized state risk pools.  This will, naturally,make the group plans more expensive (since their best risks will have departed) and the residual state pools very expensive.  He would help everyone pay for insurance by offering a $2500 per person or $5000 per family tax credit, tax credits for employers who pay a portion of their employees' insurance, and additional need-based subsidies for the "poor."  For someone in my position, there are three problems with this plan.  The first problem is that there is no way Congress is going to be able to fund the tax credits under the current circumstances, let alone fund the subsidy for the "poor" at reasonable levels. The second problem is that, since I am not a young and healthy person, my share of my health family insurance premium is already about $12,000 per year, already far above the $5,000 tax credit the McCain plan would offer, and driving the young and healthy into the individual market only promises to make it increase.  I rather suspect that it will in a short time increase more than the $5,000 amount of the tax credit.  The third problem I have with the plan is that the subsidy for the "poor" would be needs-tested, and government-authored "needs tests" are ALWAYS based on gross income alone (as if I can spend my taxes, or my mortgage and student loan payments, a second time, like the government does) and ALWAYS make unrealistic assumptions about how far that income will go.

Sen. Obama's health care plan is somewhat more comprehensive, but, like Sen. McCain's, it is needs-tested and will never get realistically funded.  So while Obama's plan looks better on paper, I'm quite secure in my knowledge that neither plan will ever work well enough to help me--or most middle-income people--very much. 

4.  Both candidates have proposed more relief for homeowners and consumer debtors.  But their hands are already tied.  The money is already committed to go to banks and big investors.  Serious relief for ordinary people won't get funded, no matter who is elected.

5.  My conservative and liberal friends all tell me that I must vote for their candidate because of the effect the winner will have on the Supreme Court.  Each is afraid the other side's candidate will appoint justices who are friendly to a dicatatorship--either Fascist or Communist, depending on which side I'm talking to.  I consider this an unlikely result of electing either party.  However, both parties like to use litmus tests for judges--one just prefers red litmus and the other blue--and I don't like the idea of litmus tests at all.  Moreover, I don't like some of the components of either color of litmus paper.  Standard Democratic litmus paper insists on judges who think that abortion and homosexuality are both morally positive qualities that should be encouraged--even to the point of suppressing the opposition to them to some degree.  I disagree with this.  Both are moral evils (though, unlike most who use the standard Republican litmus paper, I don't believe homosexuals should be discriminated against).  On the other hand, the standard Republican litmus paper calls for a "strict construction," not only of the Constitution, but also of civil rights laws generally. I am aware that it was a standard Republican strict construction of the Americans with Disabilities Act (a piece of legislation that's very important to me) that made it almost a dead letter in many contexts until Congress amended it this year, to restore it to the broad interpretation that was originally intended.  Moreover, standard Republican-litmus jurists are friendly toward the Patriot Act, a very dangerous law, whereas standard Democrat-litmus jurists are not.  I want to get away from the litmus tests altogether.  But both candidates plan to continue them.  

6.  In foreign policy, Sen. McCain wants to continue the war in Iraq--a war I opposed publicly as unwinnable months before it started--until a victory that can never happen.  He has also joked about bombing Iran, a thought which scares me (as I explained in an earlier post).  But Sen. Obama's inexperience in this area at such a fragile and dangerous time also scares me. 

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 12:05 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:20 AM EDT
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Election Year Religious Fearmongering
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

Over the last few weeks, I have received numerous appeals, from friends at church, via email from various contacts, and even from semi-official Republican sources, strenuously warning me that Barack Obama should be feared because he is a "closet Moslem" seeking to infiltrate the leadership of our Christian nation and restrict the religious liberty of all Christians.  These appeals state as a fact that Obama attended an Islamic religious school in Indonesia, where he would have learned to pretend to be a Christian in order to inflitrate our nation.  The writers assume that he is a Moslem on a nefarious mission here.   The writers also generally assume that all Moslems are potential terrorists who desire nothing more than to force us to comply with their faith and to help them destroy Israel.

However, I refuse to act on those fears, for two reasons:  first, the facts do not appear to confirm the fear that Obama is a "closet Moslem," and second, even if he were Islamic, this would not prove him to be in league with the terrorists.

I'll start with the apparent facts.  According to reliable media sources, Obama did in fact attend a grade school in Djakarta.  It was, however, a public school, not a religious school.  Indonesia is a predominantly Islamic country, but has a secular government (it is not an "Islamic republic").  The public school Obama attended did contain a mosque, and religious instruction was provided for those whose parents did not object, but it was a public school.  Obama's parents were divided over religion.  From the best indications, he was not raised as a Moslem, and in adulthood he professed Christ.  This profession is incompatible with Islam, even for  "closet Moslem."

The religious right's concept of a "closet Moslem" here is rather interesting.  It is true that a strain in Islamic philosophy going back at least to the Ninth Century Persian philosopher al-Farabi would condone keeping one's faith a secret for purposes of infiltrating an enemy.  This is, of course, the same strain in Islamic thought that teaches that the deeper truths of Islam, and of philosophy, must be kept from the masses and debated only by a small elite, and that the masses should be fed only pop religion to keep them under control.  (To give equal time to Christianity, this same concept that the deep truths must be reserved for the elite was incorporated into Christian thinking by Medieval Scholastic philosophers who read the works of earlier Islamic philosophers, and was formalized and finally adopted into Christian thinking by Aquinas).  The concepts of keeping the deep truths secret and of hiding one's true beliefs to secure influence are flip sides of the same concept.

However, hiding one's faith for a higher cause and blaspheming it are two very different things.   If Obama were a "closet Moslem," he might not be open about his faith, but he would not publicly profess that Jesus is the Son of God (as I understand he has done).  Under any interpretation of Islam, this statement is blasphemy.  It would not be justified by a desire or plan to infiltrate an enemy.  It is not something a "closet Moslem" would do.

Furthermore, I do not believe Obama wishes to restrict the religious freedom of Christians.  His vote for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill, though often cited as proof that he wants to restrict religious liberty, is actually evidence of the opposite.  That bill would have added a federal penalty to willful violent crimes committed against a victim because of his or her religion (among other classifictions).   

Finally, even if it is assumed (probably falsely) that Obama is a follower of Islam, so what?  In my long life, I have had a numer of Islamic friends, some of whom I knew fairly well and liked well.  These Islamic friends have been kind, peace-loving people.  Their faith was no proof that they are in league with terrorists.

In voting, we should pay attention to the issues and to the real character of the candidates, not to unfounded fears.  




Posted by ian_j_site2 at 3:09 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 October 2008 3:12 PM EDT

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