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Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Reminder for 9/11;_ylt=A0PDoX1RkVpOkBUAYBCJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTBlMTQ4cGxyBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1n?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

China Insults America Again--the MLK Monument

Communist China has taken a dump on American ideals and values again.

This time it is on the National Mall in a sculpture that presumes to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Judging from photographs online, the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixing, looks like typical Communist propaganda: determined stance, crossed arms, severe and glowering visage, everted lips evocative not of Sub-Saharan heritage, but of surliness. Indeed, MLK has been made to look like Mao Zedong or Lei Feng with short, tightly curled hair. MLK appears not as someone with a dream about people being judged by the content of their characters rather than the color of their skin, but ready to deliver a kick to the gonads.

Most other official portraits of MLK capture an intense, yet thoughtful and hopeful person. This was a man who cast a giant shadow not by calling for the destruction of cities or the political murder of others, but by using the very Evangelical idiom honored by his enemies to shame them into repentence. Lei Yixing's sculpture captures none of this, but oozes the unrepentant Stalinism of the Beijing government from every surface, curve, and angle.

Surely the United States of America has enough gifted sculptors out there who might have done a better sculpture.

Indeed, that the monument is made of Chinese granite by a Chinese sculptor who, to my knowledge, is not a naturalized citizen or even a lawful permanent resident, is a further travesty. It insults worldwide struggles for human rights and dignity, and supports a nation whose record on minorities stinks. Had MLK confronted the kind of Han Chinese chauvinism which, despite five Autonomous regions and numerous autonomous prefectures and counties scattered around China's periphery, he would have been treated no better than the Tibetans or Uighur. Had he spoken his Christian conscience to the China of the Mao he has been made to resemble, he would have been executed as surely as Wang Zhiming, the ethnic Miao pastor from Yunnan executed in 1973 for refusal to participate in denunciatory meetings organized by the Red Guard. Worst of all, the government would have told the people for whom a Chinese MLK might have spoken that they ought to be grateful that their Han "elder brothers" had liberated them from their backwards superstitions in the name of Karl Marx's Historical Necessity, and were sending their best young people to populate their farmlands and pastures and take the best jobs in their localities.

Washington D.C. has numerous monuments to famous Americans and foreigners, some warriors, some peacemakers, some statesmen, some poets, some spiritual, some materialist. Numerous sculptors American and foreign have captured their subjects sensitively and skillfully, beautifying the nation's capital. French's Lincoln that overlooked the spot from which King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech exudes meditation, sorrow, compassion, and depth. But this work is not alone in capturing the better side of the American spirit. Lei's Martin Luther King is simple as a carelessly placed hammer dropping on the floor.

US Government, shame on you for commissioning a sculptor steeped in an alien political culture to commemorate a great American. Lei Yixing, go home and take your disgusting Stalinist idol with you. Martin Luther King Jr. deserves a better statue.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sobering News and Civilizational Suicide

This is a link to an article on cohabiting families and their impact on children.

It's sobering to note that pre-school children are 47.6 times more likely to die if in a cohabiting household than with married heterosexual parents. I have a suspicion that part of this may be that parenting requires a strong commitment to other persons,which heterosexual marriage gives, while cohabitation (and homosexual relations) are more associated with the indulgence of sexual whims. And, by the way, to the argument that allowing homosexual marriage might raise the pool of responsible parents, I note that in countries where it is legal (and criticism of it is proscribed as "hate speech"), such as Sweden, homosexual marriage is both rare and unstable.

Back in the 1960's, many in the counterculture advocated imitation of the sexual "spontaneity" of the African-American community--which then had an illegitimacy rate of roughly 23%, compared to the 75% today. A generation later, we have an increasing number of children at risk, phenomena such as the Frank Lombard case (in which a homosexual man allowed to adopt a child prostituted his five-year-old adopted son online), and an "acceptance" of alternative life-styles that truly kills. We are not in an evolving society, but one that seems determined to commit civilizational suicide

Friday, August 19, 2011

A wonderful parody

Gates of Vienna, which has been unfairly tarred as a contributor to the Oslo killings by all who have ever grovelled at the feet of Stalin, Mao, or Castro, has posted this wonderful imitation of a Gilbert and Sullivan number:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Thought on Science and Faith

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
(Psalm 8:3-4)

Throughout my life, I have heard of a "warfare between science and religion". Yes, the tentative, groping, supposedly empirical findings of science often conflict with revealed doctrine. Yes, one eminent scientist, contemplating the "Big Bang", complained that he had spent years toiling up a mountain, only to find a band of theologians picnicking at the summit.

But the contemplation of God in his infinity, eternity, and unchanging character gives me a different perspective.

Since David, in Psalm 8, spoke of the work of God's fingers, imagine the magnification of a fingerprint, and suppose it it is the mark left by the index finger of God's right hand (please bear with my admittedly crude anthropomorphism). There are marks left by whorls, tents, and ridges, and blank spaces between the long, uneven marks left by the fingerprinter's ink. There is one long ridge over towards the right side of the fingerprint.

It is along that ridge that all of our science has been working from the beginning of recorded history.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thoughts on the Prophets: Survival Strategies

Recently, I've been reading Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah wrote just prior to Judah's exile to Babylon; Lamentations, a collection of five Hebrew acrostic poems, is said to be Jeremiah's lament over destroyed Jerusalem; Ezekiel's prophecies deal with both the fall of Jerusalem and exile.

Ezekiel notes the glory of the LORD leaving the temple by the east gate (10:19), symbolic of God's going into exile with his people. Jeremiah instructs the exiles to carry on with their lives and seek the peace of their cities of exile (Jer. 29:4-7).

These are important lessons for Christians following our loss of influence over the wider culture of the West. Yes, we must confront and criticize, and recognize that the apostate, morally obtuse, and willfully ignorant culture surrounding us is itself heading for judgment, and must inevitably pass away. But, in the meantime, we are to go on living as Christians, remembering the saving acts of God, and presenting our witness.

The Old Testament exiles doubtlessly thought that they had lost everything, that God had somehow let them down, that they were without hope. Yet from the perspective of 2500 years, we can see that the exile also gave something very positive to both Jews and Christians. As Ezekiel's visions show, it taught the Jews of old that God is not limited to a specific place. It taught them as well that they could survive even if it was difficult to "sing the LORD's song in a strange land" (Ps. 137:4). It also created a Jewish presence across much of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean worlds; and from the New Testament, we learn that these communities were the seedbed from whence the proclamation of Messiah's name went out to the nations.

Perhaps, as the wider culture grows more hostile to Christ and to Christians, it is time to remember to survive, spread, and prepare for the next stage of God's plan of the ages to unfold.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Iranian Water Fights and US Policy

There is now news that the Iranian authorities have become ever vigilant lest young people engage in water fights in parks during a spell of hot weather. There is fear that such incidents would be used as cover for opposition demonstrations.

While Uncle Cephas always supporsts the right of the young [and old] to cool off on a hot day, official US support for the Iranian opposition would be a lose-lose proposition for both. US policy ought to be to let Iran stew in its own political juices. Their irresponsible and foolish "thinking" class needs to be deprived of any plausible scapegoats and excuses.

In any event, the strongest force in the Iranian opposition has long been the Mojaheddin-e-Qalq, who, I understand, always claimed to be the first "revolutionary fighters" into the "nest of spies" back in 1979. They represent a mix of Marxism and Militant Islam, about as poisonous a combination as you can get. These are the same people whose US representatives can be found buttonholing people on the National Mall in Washington to solicit signatures on petitions to free various Iranian oppositionists and scold the mullah-ocracy. Uncle Cephas' own feelings about the group is, given its history in 1979, that a self-respecting US administration would instruct its Justice Department to investigate all MEQ admitted to the USA for possible revocation of either immigration status or citizenship (whichever applies in each case), detention, and deportation. The group made it clear long ago that the only possible relationship between Iran and the USA is hostility, so the USA truly has no excuse for letting them in.

The Iranian people have a long-standing grievance with us over the 1953 ouster of their hero Mossadegh, that fierce lion over British oil interests in his country and meek, timid, crippled mouse towards Soviet oil interests and out-and-out looting of northern Iran at the end of World War II, whose policies would have led to Iran's suffering in the late 1950's and '60's the fate Afghanistan suffered in the 1980's.

Perhaps the ferment going on in the Islamic world is a good reason for the US to let that entire civilization sort out its own problems--jut as long as they confine their calls for jihad against what they all recognize as the Dar-al-Harb--House of War,or legitimate target for Islamic aggression--verbal and contained.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The USA, Religious Defamation, and Islam

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has stated that the USA supports the efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to declare defamation of religion a violation of human rights. While this appears respectful to all religions, it is in fact a veiled bid for Islamic supremacism, and as such needs to be opposed. Fundamentally, it strikes at both traditional American free exercise of religion and freedom of speech

The OIC represents a number of countries that are egregious violators of religious freedom. Pakistan is notorious for mob action against its small Christian, Hindu, and Sikh minorities that go uninvestigated or unpunished by the courts. Especially, in recent years, there have been numerous reports of abductions, rapes, and forced conversions of Christian and Hindu girls to Islam, with the Pakistani courts recognizing the marriages of these young women to their Muslim abductors, and the force of Islamic personal law over their persons.

In Egypt, permission to build a new church requires permission of the head of state. During the Mubarak years, security organs often encouraged the deflection of anti-regime anger into anti-Christian channels. Egypt also has had a number of cases in which people have been imprisoned after conversion from Islam to Christianity, and the refusal to allow former Muslims to re-register their religious identity as Christian. Further, attacks on the ten percent of Egypt's population that identifies itself as Christians--mostly of the Coptic Orthodox Church--have been growing in frequency and intensity over the past several years, and the removal of Mubarak does not seem to have lessened intercommmunal tensions.

The OIC called for this ban on defamation of religion in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, where possession of a Bible is a crime, and conversion to Christianity a capital offense. Similar treatment of apostates is both legislated and enforced in Iran and Afghanistan, even after the fall of the Taliban.

The target of this "anti-defamation" campaign is a rise in both Western awareness of Islam and Western criticism of Islam since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. While the criticism has found little resonance in Western governments, it has found a following among non-Muslim people. Many who have inquired into Islam since then have not like what they have found, especially the close link between mosque and state and the division of the world into realms of Islam and the Dar-al-Harb (Lands of War), which is seen as a real or potential target for Islamic aggressive war. Non-Muslims who have noted such things have spoken up against Islam in both America and Europe. Bloggers such as Robert Spencer have developed large followings due to their careful research into Islamic doctrine and tradition, and their exposing clear theological links between core Islamic texts and teachings and the practice of political terror. While such bloggers do not call for violence against Muslims per se, they have spawned a fierce reaction from both Muslims and the political Left (which sees Muslims as a "minority", and hence a client group needing special protection and deference).

Since 9/11, Muslims have been quick to claim victim status as targets of "hate crimes" (although statistically, proven "hate crimes" against Muslims remain many times fewer than those perpetrated against Jews). Official American endorsement of an OIC-sponsored UN resolution against "defamation of religion" could easily turn into a judicial weapon to punish all who might criticize that religion, no matter how respectfully such criticism might be couched. This would have a very negative bearing on traditional American free exercise of religion and freedom of speech and the press.

But could not the same resolution be used for the protection of Christianity (or Judaism, or Daoism, or Buddhism, or Mormonism)? Perhaps. But the biases of influential jurists against Christianity could easily cause the prosecution of defamation cases to be skewed in favor of protection of the supposed "discrete and insular minority" of Muslims, or any other that is willing to use courts to silence their critics.

The USA has already proffered the hand of friendship towards the Islamic world several times, most noteworthily during the Obama administration. Mr. Obama's address to assembled Islamic representatives at Cairo was obsequious in the extreme. His administration has also backed politicized Islam in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and will probably do the same in Syria. Noteworthy spokesmen from our Department of State and CIA have dubbed the Muslim Brotherhood "moderate" and "secular", most likely out of unhappy recognition that it enjoys widespread support in the Islamic world and is likely to win the current power struggles going on among Arab Muslims; certainly not because these American leaders have read anything written by Seyyid Qotb or noticed the rise in attacks on non-Muslim minorities since the much-touted "Arab Spring".

Prior actions by the current administration have not endeared the USA to the Arab and wider Islamic street, nor have such attempts at outreach uncovered the supposed reserves of "moderate" Muslim sentiment in the Islamic world. It would be far better policy for the USA to remain aloof from the OIC initiative, and reiterate its commitment to its own First Amendment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Favorite Sayings

Spit at heaven, and you get it back in your face.

Misha: My dog is wiser than my wife.
Grisha: Why do you say that?
Misha: My dog knows not to bark at his master.

It's hard to get off when you ride a tiger.