Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Oblivion

Let me begin this essay with the acknowledgment that I have no credentials whatsoever in geo-politics or military planning. I never served in the military nor do I have any experience in anti-terrorism. I am just a plain everyday American who thinks too much and wonders about the future.

We are losing the “war” in Afghanistan. That is inevitable. We have lost the “war” in Iraq. That too was inevitable. The only “hot” war we have not lost since 1945 was in Korea where our efforts in repulsing North Korean aggression permitted the South Korean people to develop a free and prosperous society.

In Korea, we fought another nation and its allies that sought to defeat and occupy a free state. The threat in Korea was external. In Viet Nam, we fought on behalf of less than popular governments against an indigenous insurgency as well as external forces. In Iraq and Afghanistan we fight on behalf of cobbled together governments in states created out of whole cloth by American, British and French diplomats after WWI against local Muslim extremists intent on toppling these regimes. The only way we can “win” these wars is to behave as conquerors have for time immemorial. Ruthlessly and permanently impose our will on the entire nation. To succeed we must do as was done in The Great Plains, drive out the local peoples and populate the countryside with our own settlers. Make Afghanistan into North Dakota. Since we have no interest at all in permanently colonizing Afghanistan or Iraq we cannot win unless we utterly destroy the insurgency root, branch and leaf. We lack the viciousness necessary for such an undertaking.

This is not to say that America lacks the will to destroy an enemy, just ask Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan - or the Comanche’s or Apaches. Americans must sense an existential threat before unleashing the fullness of its violent nature. The North American Indians were herded and eliminated because they either killed and terrorized settlers or just stood in the way of occupation and growth. In WWII America fueled by rage at the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and a real and legitimate fear of that our way of life would be destroyed created and released the most horrific multi-modal killing machine the world has ever known.

The current conflicts resemble much more the Plains Indian wars than the global wars of yesterday but with one huge difference. Our “cavalry” in Iraq and Afghanistan are proxies for an element of the peoples within those benighted lands as if the French Foreign Legion had fought the Apaches for white settlers.

An indigenous insurgency using guerilla tactics such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban need only avoid total obliteration to defeat a foreign occupying force that is not committed to permanent and merciless rule. In Iraq, our forces won the war when Saddam was toppled. We lost the war when we signed on to protect the nascent and artificial democracy. In six or seven years, we have killed massive numbers of terrorists and Baathists, but we have not killed the critical mass necessary to eradicate the threat. We will not do this because it would require too much bloodshed, combatant and otherwise. Whether we stay another year or six, anti government insurgents will likely still remain, growing stronger among fanatics and those who resent the foreign occupier. When we leave there will be a new war, a civil war in which the most powerful and vicious side will prevail. The winner will then subjugate the land to its will by force. So has it ever been in this part of the world, so will it ever be.

The same dynamic is playing out in Afghanistan. In 2001-2003 we killed tens of thousands Taliban and Al Qaeda in that country. We installed a faux democratic government [as we did in Iraq] and began to apply pacification policies that worked in a devastated Western Europe and Japan in the middle of the last century that have not worked anywhere since and will not work in a region mired in the 12th century. The new government lacking any direction not given by American diplomats and generals flopped about like a fish on the shore while the Taliban and Al Qaeda retreated to Pakistan, licked their wounds, regrouped and began to terrorize yet again.

Having read and participated in recent history the insurgents know well that the American people tire quickly of shedding their own blood fighting for questionable regimes halfway round the world and doing so in kid gloves. They know we will leave and they will have only to defeat the weak and marginally popular government we leave behind.

Experts opine that defeating the Taliban is an absolute must if we are to avoid more and deadlier terrorist attacks on American soil. The American people do not believe this and for good reason. The Taliban live in caves on the other side of the planet. They are no threat to us. An eight-man sleeper cell sponsored by Iran or Egypt or some rich private terrorists has the capability of killing more Americans than all the Taliban in the Afghanistan! The only threat The Taliban poses if they once again rule Afghanistan is permitting and operating training bases for Muslim killers. Our armed forces are reputed to possess satellites that can display the breed of a stray dog scratching himself in a vacant lot. We have weapons that appear out of nowhere to destroy city blocks. We can deliver bombs with drones operated by video game joysticks. Keep one of these eyes on Afghanistan and if a training camp or arms depot appears destroy it from afar. Apply the same policy to Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen, Iran or any other potential home to the Mohammedan scourge.

I fear that our government from GWB to Obama has used Iraq and Afghanistan to deflect our attention from their refusal or inability to deal adequately with the one rogue state in the Middle East that does pose an existential threat to America. Iran. Iran sponsors more terrorism in a month than comes from Afghanistan in a year. It spreads Muslim malignancy throughout the globe, thumbs it nose at world opinion and actively seeks nuclear weapons it has pledged to use to wipe Israel off the face of the map. While we waste money and blood on primitives in Afghanistan a storm brews over Iran that may literally bring an end to civilization, as we know it.

Israel is the most peaceable of all nations. It minds it own business and protects its own borders. It does not involve itself in foreign intrigues. However Israel strikes as quickly and lethally as a cobra when sufficiently threatened. It would do well for today’s world leaders to study the conditions facing Israel on the eve of the Six Day War. Without a homeland for nearly four centuries the Jews will not sit idly by awaiting destruction.

Iran will not obtain operational nuclear weapons. It will be deterred either by the spectre of overwhelming force from America and permit the western alliance to dis-mantle its nuclear infrastructure without conflict – or – Israel will dis-mantle it for them in a first strike that will leave Tehran a smoking, radioactive ruin and the world in shock. If Israeli leaders believe other nations might rise to avenge Iran they too will be preemptively destroyed. Once this nuclear Pandora’s Box is opened who can say what nightmare may ensue. Will India take the opportunity to destroy Pakistan? Will China attack India? Will North Korea take vengeance on Japan for centuries of abuse?

Some allow that Barack Obama is the antichrist. Of course this is so much hysterical hyperbole. That said if he continues to play games in Afghanistan and seek games for Chicago while Iran slouches toward oblivion, our President may well be present with him at the end of time.

Sycamore Trees

I love sycamore trees. I played hours alone as a boy under an ancient old specimen at my grandmother's. I love the leaves, the bark, the size, shape and smell of sycamore trees. I love everything about sycamore trees.

Sycamores are a tough lot they suffer badly during a hot dry summer. The older men are usually scarred from loss of limbs to ice and storm. They are very late to come out in spring and each year I anxiously await the many fine old gentlemen that populate my neighborhood to show signs of life. Every year just as I am about to despair some particularly gnarly one he displays his new leaves.

If looking for water, a surface stream, a spring or an underground pool look skyward for a sycamore. They love water. Some many years ago, I planted a small sycamore in the corner of my yard that collects runoff into a deep and wide French drain. He prospered in the perennially wet corner.

In his sixth year, torrential rains blitzed our town for 36 non-stop, hours. During this deluge, as I looked out into the backyard I watched my little sycamore begin to list. The youngster was being washed out. My young son and I rushed out looped a heavy rope around the trunk and lashed it to the garden gate. His ball had been about 40% exposed and we wondered if it would reset itself and he would live. It did and he did. Several years later during the construction of a brick fence around our yard my now mature friend sustained root shock. Once again, I feared he would not survive. The next spring showing quite a bit of limb loss he nonetheless gave leaf once more.

Three years thence, we experienced a horrible ice storm that devastated those branches not destroyed previously by the root shock. This time I knew for sure the old boy was a goner and sure enough that spring I counted only half dozen pathetic leaves on the entire 30-foot tree. The wide canopy of lush limbs he had once proudly shown were either gone or barren. He had finally succumbed.

That summer we had a Mexican tree crew out to trim our trees. Were Ruben an educated man one would call him an arborist as it is he is just a man of trees. Trees feed Ruben and his family and he loves them for it. On the strenuous urging of my wife, I reluctantly asked Ruben to take what was now no more than an eyesore down and haul it away. “Senor Hacker” “I think he might be saved, would you like me to try?” “You think so" I hoped. The gentle eyes in the wizened brown face smiled as he answered; “yes I think so”. Ruben owns no bucket truck or fancy ladders he trims trees the old-fashioned way, climbing into and up them on jackboots, with handsaws. He went to work and when he finished what was left was more totem pole than sycamore. The surgery was as radical as radical can get. “Now we wait,” Ruben announced.

It’s two years later now and I am looking out at a 30 foot sycamore just covered with life. No suckers here but new little branches full with lush green leaves. My sycamore has suffered virtually everything nature and man can throw at a tree. He has survived flood, trauma, drought and ice. In the most recent crisis, every live twig was cut back to the trunk. He must have hurt tremendously and felt terrifically embarrassed, even ashamed. Even so had Ruben not performed his draconian but gentle cutting my tree would have surely died.

The experience of my pal the sycamore reminds me of the painful and humbling ways my Lord grows me and prunes the death from me. As I look at the robust vitality of life on display out my window, I am reminded too that if He chose to spare me the hurt and shame caused by His loving care, I too would die.

I love sycamore trees.

A Call To Action

The United States Constitution belongs neither to the Supreme Court nor any other branch of the federal government but to the states and to the people. The 9th and 1oth amendments to that sacred charter bar the central government from the greater part of its mischief. Yet it continues to abuse and over-reach its privilege. If Washington can enforce on “we the people” a particular type of light bulb nothing then out of its malevolent grasp. The ballot box has proven ineffective in stopping the growth of Leviathan.

In 1799, Kentucky and Virginia in resolutions written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison declared the extra-constitutional and tyrannical Alien and Sedition Acts null and void within their respective borders. Thus was established the Doctrine of Nullification. The offending acts were soon repealed. In 1832, South Carolina risked war with Andrew Jackson’s budding empire by interposing the same doctrines with regard to the “Tariff of Abomination” Henry Clay’s “Great Compromise” forestalled for a generation bloody warfare between a sovereign state and its subordinate creation.

The current activity and enactions of the federal government are no more legal than those cited above – The Constitution is after all a legal document – and of far greater threat to liberty so dearly won and preserved. Citizens call out for justice and restraint but our words fall on the deaf ears of arrogant despots. Our cries to be effective, must be backed by the promise of bold action. Tyrannies are not easily undone. I call on the governors, legislatures and peoples of the fifty states to rise up in damnation of federal subjugation and follow the lead of their ancient fathers in Kentucky, Virginia and South Carolina. Nullification is legal within the four corners of The Constitution. It has been proven an effective restraint on federal excess. I pray we take this non-violent action now lest the jackboot and/or bloody revolt necessarily follow.

In Kentucky we have a saying “talk is cheap it takes money to buy whiskey”. So is it with freedom. There is no better way to celebrate this Independence Day than to stretch up tall and once more pledge our honor and treasure against the price of liberty, for ourselves and our posterity.

The Attributes of A Man

There is much debate and quarreling today concerning the attributes of a “real man”. It is an important question. The future of our culture depends on the answer. I think the plain term "man" is sufficient for this discussion and will use it throughout this essay. Before offering an answer, a more fundamental issue demands attention. How did America arrive at the point where this question needs even be posed?

1942 was truly the watershed year in modern American History. Recovering from the December 1941 sucker punch leveled on Pearl Harbor, America mobilized for war. It would never be the same. Conventional liberal wisdom gives FDR’s New Deal credit for ending the Great Depression. Conventional conservative wisdom holds it was the wartime military-industrial buildup. In fact, General Hideki Tojo cured the pernicious economic illness with his audacious attack. Unemployment dropped from 14.6% in 1940 to 1.3% in 1945 as millions of young men left the unemployment lines and entered the armed forces.

With most men in uniform America’s women left the kitchen en masse. Trading pastry gun for riveting gun they made the tools their men used to defeat The Axis. Husbands and boyfriends gone to war women learned and proved there was very little masculine work they could not do. Wearing respect and confidence earned in the crucible of wartime deprivation the weaker sex entered the post war era a force of nature non-existent on Thanksgiving Day 1941. Their daughters would remake American culture.

The men of “America’s Greatest Generation” began to de-mobilize and re-enter civilian life in 1946. They too were a new race of men. Entering the conflagration as mere teenagers and fuzzy faced young men [the average age of an army colonel in 1944 was 26 years] these “boys” returned home battle hardened grown men having experienced all the horrors Hell has to offer. Reclaiming wives and girlfriends this warrior generation was determined to fill up on that fine wine they fought and bled for. As they drank deeply, they created a grand, booming prosperity.

Days of happiness, peace and plenty were virtually unknown to the fathers and mothers of the baby boom. Born mostly in the mid to late 1920’s these men and women endured a childhood in depression scarcity and came of age just in time to go to war. Despite the affluence of wartime full employment, rationing of essentials like sugar, meat, leather and gasoline kept the home front in want another four years. Having endured poverty and travail and survived the Reaper’s great harvest, fresh faced civilian couples of 1946 to 1955 embarked on a relentless campaign to define and achieve the American Dream. The prize was now theirs for the taking and they seized it without remorse. These children of the valley of the shadow of death wanted material wealth and the warm sunshine of peace for themselves and a better future for their issue – in that order. They loved their children but having themselves grown up fast and hard in the worst of times they concentrated on giving them security and opportunity rather than overweening attention. They must have succeeded in this for the youth of the 1960’s enjoyed enough security to take it for granted and enough opportunity to throw it away.

The Civil Rights struggle of the late 1950’s and 1960’s destroyed the idea of American innocence. Televised, it brought us face-to-face with the injustice and hatefulness in our midst. A foundational myth shattered a crisis of faith ensued that saw American sons turn on their fathers, the first military defeat in US history, assassination and the resignation of a sitting President. Every standard of society went up for grabs. If the qualified working women of 1941 to 1945 stepped down willingly from the workforce as their men demobilized, their girl children grew up to demand mother’s legacy.The Feminist movement was conceived in the wartime arsenals of democracy. It was born on the college campuses of 1968.

Feminism attacks the very structure of society. Using unceasingly the agitprop of gender equality and the deadening effects of time the movement has effectively remade contemporary culture in its own image. As Delilah of old used barber shears to take Samson’s strength while he slept so modern Delilah has talked her paramour drowsy in order to take the gelding shears to him. The very question before the house today is ample testimony to the totality of the feminist victory.

Having arrived at last to the question of the hour, to answer it requires we return now from whence we have come. The characteristics of a man can be found in the heritage and DNA of the United States soldiers, sailors, marines and pilots of WWII and the men that from necessity remained stateside and sustained them. A man offers his life in defense of his women and children. He returns from fighting, picks up where he left off and builds a colossus such as the world has never seen. A man does not do his best to make a better life for his family – he does what is required. He brings his paycheck home, and is faithful to his bride; he loves his children and disciplines them according to godly principles. A man strives to model the character of Christ for his charges and leads them in the ways of The Lord. He accepts the burdens and duty of his divine commission to oversee the home. A man knows the value of freedom and doesn’t stifle his youngsters with endless pre-packaged activities. He recognizes life is cold and mean, that his sons and daughters need a hard-eyed father. The junior mother, playmate and buddy are not for him. A man stands fearlessly on his hind legs in service of justice and honor. He is ruthless in opposition to inequity and evil. Though generously fitted with the qualities noted above a man remains but a man and cannot escape his fallen nature. He sins, repents and sins again. A man is aware of his shortcomings and his excesses. He grieves over them and the damage they cause. He is intimate with failure and bears it with grace.

Three quarters of a million American graves scattered over the face of the earth testify to the masculinity of those men buried in them. It is impossible for a man not participating in the dreadfulness of war to possess the perfect fullness of manhood. Only a magnificent few born after 1945 have suffered these experiences. Nonetheless, lack of combat is no bar to genuine manhood. If you are my age, you probably grew up under the protection, provision and authority of a man. If you are under 40, you are likely to find a man in the person of your grandfather. Perhaps your father is a man. If so, pay close attention to him and remember him well for his kind is unwelcome in the Metrosexual Century and has been marked for extinction. A man today is inconvenient. He expects respect from his wife and honor from his children grown or at home. A man is too authoritarian, too independent, too frank and too unyielding for today’s estrogen softened milieu. He talks like a man and understands like a man. He will stand up when called and will not back down when threatened. A man today is one born out of time. We will likely not see his equal on American soil again.

Church and Culture

I received today an “urgent” appeal to sign a petition demanding the US Senate filibuster an Obama nomination to the federal bench of a certain “anti-Jesus” judge. The judge opposes public prayer using Jesus name, is very much pro abortion and in general is a liberal twit. I will sign a petition opposed to the fellow for being very much pro abortion and in general a liberal twit – but not for being anti-Jesus! Evangelicals in a misguided attempt to be “salt and light” to a decadent culture have gone from preaching to meddling. The moralistic drones of today's Christian Right have proved the secularists correct. We have gone so far over the line in politicizing The Gospel, that charges that Christians wish to impose a theocracy in America have become more right than wrong.

I am grateful to Our Lord that we are not a Christian nation, nor Mohammedan, nor Jewish nor any other theistic political construct. Constantine the first “Christian Emperor” of Rome proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the empire in the 4th century. Once joined to earthly power The Church mutated over the next 1000 years becoming a venal, corrupt and voracious monster that punished unbelief and dissent with death and oppressed its own nearly as harshly. In Ireland state churches have fostered murder and mayhem for centuries.

The Puritans of New England sought to establish the “New Jerusalem”, a “holy city set on a hill.” The laws of New England based on the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy including idolatry and blasphemy were ecclesiastical in nature harsh in enforcement. Dissenters mostly Baptists, were persecuted and banished. In response to these abuses Roger Williams established Rhode Island, the first political entity in the new world to secure free expression of one’s faith. James Madison, a devout Presbyterian and arguably the most truly Christian of our founders was militantly opposed to any attempt to establish The Kingdom of God on the western shore of the Atlantic. We should be as well.

In the second chapter of Revelation Christ chastises the church at Ephesus for abandoning The Gospel in favor of good works. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” He did not criticize the good works - only that they had eclipsed the purer and more important purposes of His Church.

Just what are the more important purposes of The Church and its people? Jesus answers this in numerous accounts but three seem to summarize them well. According to John’s gospel [21: 15-18], Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me”? Peter answered in the affirmative all three times. In reply, on each occasion Jesus said, “feed my sheep”. In what is known as the Great Commission, Christ calls his disciples to "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”[ Mark 15: 16] and teach them [those who believe] to “observe all that I have commanded of you” [Matthew 28: 20]. Where within these texts does one find instructions to either establish “Christian Nations” or compel unbelievers to observe what Christ commands? According to Jesus the pure work of the church is to evangelize and then educate and care for those who accept His offer of salvation. Nowhere does He compel atheists, agnostics or pagans to obey Christian precepts. Atheists don’t believe in God or His Son, why would they follow His rules or respect His axioms? To expect unbelievers to accept and obey Christian principles is as preposterous as expecting Christians to obey Buddha or The Koran! Trying to pressure goats to fly accomplishes nothing save making them angry, so too efforts to coerce heathens to follow a code meant for Jesus’ followers.

Jesus also made very clear statements about His Kingdom. Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." [John 18: 36]. The biblical task of The Church is not ambiguous. Clearly we are to be about evangelizing, teaching, worshiping and ministering to each other. Clearly we are not to be about establishing His Kingdom on earth or creating and ruling Christian Nations. We are to Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Civil government is Caesar’s by God’s ordinance.

Doesn’t Christ call us to be “salt and light”? Of course! "You are the salt of the earth . . . "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 5: 13-16]. We are always to model Our Lord and oppose sin both as individuals and corporately. The analogies found in these texts are of great import in this discussion. Salt is but one of many ingredients in a meal. Without salt the stew is not very tasty. However as we all know, too much salt ruins it. A light does not compel, it illumines. The light forces no one to take the right path it only makes it visible. Christians then are to season the world not embalm it, to show the way not coerce the unwilling to follow it.

For one who has been a staunch “culture warrior” the above realization has come painfully. “I have been wrong” does not form easily on my lips. To acknowledge that even a jot or tittle of truth is found in secularist indictments of The Church swallows hard. However I have been wrong in demanding that pagans abide by Christian mores and they have been right that Evangelicals attempt even unwittingly to establish a North American Christian theocracy. I repent.

Does this mean I no longer think I should take a position on public political and moral issues? Again, of course not. I am still to be a light amidst the darkness, revealing the truth. I am to meliorate the culture by proclaiming The Gospel and encouraging public policies that uphold the sanctity of life, respect our God given liberties and secure the future for our children. None of these are exclusively Christian yet all reflect His goodness. It is past time pietistic, Evangelicals repent, quit moralizing the culture and “do the works it did at first” It may be astonishing what a few decades of fervently trumpeting the grace of God in Christ His Son might effect on our perishing civilization.

Emergent Heresy

I have spent considerable time lately reading about the “Emergent Church”. There is much to read, too much. What one may ask is the Emergent Church? Based on my reading Emergent [it goes by this part of the formal name to distinguish itself from the "Emerging Church"] is a “conversation” about the refusal of the hierarchical evangelical church to meet the demands of postmodern man and what must be done about it. It is the latest effort by the “all about me” community to remake The Gospel in its image. What puzzles me is that so many see this movement as something new and take it so seriously. Emergent is nothing more than the extension and updating of the revolt against form, doctrine, and propositional truth that began in the sixties when Father Tim first took his Martin to Mass.

The Emergent conversation begins with the premise that The Age of Reason [modernism] beginning from The Enlightenment of the 18th century, has passed away. Postmodernism has arrived, an age in which there are no absolutes and objective reality does not exist - a sort of updated, intellectualized “Free to be You and Me”. The thoughtful postmodern will not be reached it is said, by arguments from doctrines that order all creation under a singular universal authority.

Postmodern thought offers a worldview, actually a non world view claiming that every pretense to reality is culturally informed and one culture's perspective is no more or less valid than another's - though it may be antithetical! It is an anti-philosophy that precludes knowledge at all. Emergent proposes to adapt Christianity to these ideas. I am at a loss how one one might merge ultimate truth with nonsense and produce anything but rubbish.

Young postmoderns the Emergents insist, will not respond to the “exclusive” “arrogant” and “intolerant” message of the traditional church. If it is to survive the 21st century, Christianity must be stripped of its hard-edged dogmatism and rigid, confessions. God's precepts must give way to “poetry” “community” “affections” and “mystery”. In other words, The Church must surrender truth and embrace emotion if it is to be palatable to these young Hegelians. The message is clear. Unless the gospel is post-modernized an entire generation will be lost and perhaps The Church as well.

Save that this movement has a smokey smell and will surely lead many astray it would be unworthy of thoughtful consideration. It is derivative, vapid, self- indulgent and intellectually dishonest. The Emergent Church proposes its own anti meta-narrative to answer the questions of a world rejecting all meta-narratives. It offers its own non dogma to a society that denies all dogma. The Emergent conversation prescribes incoherence to a culture dying of incoherence. It would replace an ancient edifice built up in service over centuries on the blood of martyrs and standing on the "shoulders of giants" with an amorphous accretion of free form ,leaderless "faith communities" and house churches, un-guided by un-thinking fresh faced, neo hippies.

The visible church is not infallible, nor is it always warm, loving, accepting or authentic. She is made up of hypocrites, idolaters, drunks, adulterers and every other type of malefactor one can name. St. Augustine is quoted as saying of The Church “she’s a whore but she’s my mother”. She has persevered through a never ceasing progression of persecutions, heresies, corruptions, inquisitions and scandals. She has survived Rome, Marx, Nietzsche and unbelief. Until abandoned by Her betrothed, She is the face of Jesus' Bride.

The Church is slow to learn and slow to turn. She is by nature and necessity a conservative establishment. She must also be organized and functional. The apostle Paul set forth the hierarchy and qualifications for leadership and church discipline in his letters to the New Testament churches. The Church is called to do all things properly and in good order and to hand down the gospel and tenets of the faith to its children. This task requires structure and continuity. Emergents pillory the late 20th century churches for failing in just that mission. I suggest that failure to the extent it is failure is the result not of the constitution of those churches but of abandoning truth reverence and tradition in fearful pandering to whining and demanding children. Emergent offers more of the same poison as cure for the first.

Jesus said,"I am the truth”. How do these new age spiritualists plan to season that clear assertion of universal and exclusive truth to the tastes of multiculturists? He also proclaimed Himself The Son of God and that only through Him may one be reconciled to His father. To all who believe on Him He offers eternal life. To those who don’t He promises Hell. How does Brian McLaren or Rob Bell soften these “hard edged” absolutes?

The entire New Testament teaches the exclusivity of Christianity. Can Christo-Buddhism be true? What about Christian-Satanism? I read recently a progressive believer declare that a Muslim-Christian may acknowledge both Jesus as Savior and Allah as God. Would Allah then be Jesus' father? How can this be? Allah’s word expressed in the Koran denies the deity of Christ. Accommodation with other “equally valid” faiths demands just this sort of syncretism on a massive scale. Be it syncretism or 21st century gnostic mysticism, The Emergent Church preaches something but not the revealed Word of God.

“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”.[Hebrews 4:12] -
“So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”.
[Isaiah 55:11]

So the Bible says and it still is news. The common thread in all the movements or conversations to make Christianity more "relevant" is the disregard for the timelessness and power of God’s Word and the sweetness of The Gospel. The Apostles preached, “Christ and Him crucified” to a cultural milieu thoroughly Jewish and pagan. With fearless audacity, they proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection. They built Christ's Church in a militantly, antagonistic environment. The Great Commission commands “spread The Gospel to all nations”. For nearly two thousand years, this message in its pure and unadulterated form has proven relevant enough to win the hearts of Kings and Emperors, sustain The Church and add millions of vastly diverse citizens to The Kingdom of God.

The wise of this world proclaimed God dead, Jesus a fraud and The Church an anachronism - in the 1960's. Oddly since then, Jesus has continued to call His sheep, they have continued to recognize His voice, come to Him and be added to His Church. S0 it was in the 1st century, so it is in the 21st, so shall it be until He returns.

From The Pen of Abaddon

Do Tom Daschle and other Democrat pols not have tax accountants?

If the government actually did something that created real money and if it maintained a massive excess stockpile of the stuff - then - federal spending would be stimulating to the economy. As it is our benefactors in DC first take it from us schmoos losing 10%-20% per cent in the process, move it around through the bureaus burning a few more percent and then returning it to some other schmoo at 50 cents on the dollar. I guess they would call this "addition by subtraction."

The next time you consider trusting your well-being to Washington be sure and remember that your house is cooler in winter, warmer in summer and your lights dimmer all around in order to protect you from a "Global Warming" threat that has seen the earth's temperature plummet almost a degree and a half since 1998.

Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet. Why would you believe anything else he says?

If you think the $20 billion in bonuses Wall Street bankers gave themselves last year was grand, imagine what Uncle Hank got for making it possible.

Banks too big to fail, politicians too important to pay taxes and a nation full of plump little schmoos ripe for the harvest. Are we almost there yet daddy?

Hacker's First Law of Roundball

All Wildcat fans fancy themselves experts on the game of basketball. I am no exception. That said 50 years playing the game and of listening, watching live and watching on TV the winningest team in history does I think, qualify one at least an educated ,amateur expert. Some things about this team are so obvious they are overlooked. In other areas the stats tell an interesting story.

Kentucky’s problems this year are not – despite CBG’s assertions - toughness or defensive rebounding. Nor is want of talent the issue. The turnover problem, while troublesome is merely symptomatic of the coaching style employed by coach G. That we lack talent when possessing a lottery pick center and a guard who makes 44% of his threes and is the fourth leading scorer in America is akin to bemoaning that one’s ten-thousand square foot home has only eight bedrooms.

First the obvious, basketball teams make turnovers for three primary reasons, timidity with the ball, inability to make jump-shots [which increases timidity] and lack of unit cohesiveness.

With the exception of Jodie Meeks and Pat Patterson, no Wildcat player appears offensively aggressive or seems comfortable with the basketball. In the case of Darius Miller, it is painful to watch him start and stop, start and stop and then pass up an open jumper for a bad pass.

With three of the five players on the floor routinely passing up open shots early and midway through the shot clock opponents are able to surround Patterson and face guard Meeks. As the clock approaches zero, passes [and individual offensive efforts] become panicked and forced, resulting in miscues. The plain reason UK commits so many errors is so obvious it goes without scrutiny. Efficient, crisp, offense requires cohesiveness and hopefully a bit of chemistry, cohesiveness alone though is sufficient to limit turnovers to a manageable number. Gillispie’s purposely-erratic substitutions, two minute playing stints and practice of “disappearing” players for games at a time categorically precludes any sort of unit cohesion and obliterates the chance of team chemistry. The ‘system” breeds uncertainty, indecision and constant “bench checking” by players on the court. These are qualities that demand large numbers of mistakes.

Too many turnovers is an easy target for blame in losses. However, turnovers are only one factor – and not the greatest – limiting this team to mediocrity. For a long time I have instinctively suspected that [despite coaches’ reflexive denials] the 3pt shot is the most important element in the game. I posit the secret to winning college basketball games is “make the 3 – stop the 3”. The value of a good big man is as a rebounder and inside scoring threat requiring “double downs” to open up the perimeter. Even PPat is not strong enough [too little time for enough 2’s] to carry the team without outside help.

After the S. Carolina game, I did a little statistical analysis of the season so far. Kentucky has only one player making at least one 3pt field goal per game. By contrast, every team in the current top five has at least three and two have four players. In the sixteen wins, this year UK makes on average seven 3pt shots in 16 attempts while opponents go six for 19. In its six losses, Kentucky has averaged only four 3pt goals in 17 tries. Winning opponents are making nearly 10 in 22. When losing the Wildcats give up four more 3’s on three more attempts than when winning. In losing vs winning efforts UK is making three less per game on the same number of shots. For the season Kentucky commits an average 18 turnovers a game, 21 in the losses. Only in the S. Carolina game was rebounding [offensive or defensive] a statistical factor. In fact UK out-rebounded all six opponents.

Summarizing, in the six losing games the ‘Cats have scored on average three less 3pt goals, and given up four more per game than when winning, an astonishing negative 21 point per game turnaround. Clearly this stat explains the difference in winning and losing for UK this year. Soon I will undertake a more exhaustive analysis of this phenomenon including the perennial top teams. If this investigation supports my premise as well as the current data does the “make the 3 – stop the 3” hypothesis must soon become Hacker’s First Law of Roundball.

If I am correct, employing a stubborn coach who values “length”, athleticism and head games over unit cohesiveness and making and defending the three does not bode well for UK, which may well be bearing down on its fifth straight 10 loss season.

1860 and 2009: The First Shot

Less than four days into his presidency and one day after the 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade Barack Obama overturned an executive order that has barred US dollars from funding abortion overseas for twenty of the last twent-eight years. This could be the action [see 1860 and 2009 posted 1.16.09] that initiates a struggle for the soul of the nation.

From The Pen of Abbadon

The ga-ga press has imbued Barack Obama with the combined attributes and vision of Abe Lincoln and FDR. Heaven help us if they are right!

1860 and 2009

The most serious and divisive moral issue since black slavery tore the Republic apart in the mid nineteenth century is that of abortion. We are divided almost equally among those who oppose it and those who do not. The lines are drawn clearly. Abortion on demand has been the salient issue for feminist groups since the sixties and is a galvanizing theme among the liberals who control the Democratic Party. Opposing these are Christians who have steadfastly opposed abortion since long before it was legalized in 1962 by the dubious Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade. To them abortion is no less than the killing of innocents, a direct and monstrous violation of the Sixth Commandment prohibition of murder.

It was once argued that abortion is not infanticide because a fetus is not a person until it is born. Science and medicine have since shown irrefutably that a fetus from its earliest stages is an unborn human being. Only the most partisan abortionists deny this today. As intolerable as is slavery, it involves only the enslavement of a person, abortion on the other hand is the destruction of a person. If eradicating the former lesser offense justified the death of 500,000 Americans, how much more the latter? Our country may be on the precipice of having to answer that ominous question.

For the first time since Lyndon Johnson was President 40 years ago, Democrats have overwhelming control of both houses of Congress and the White House. During Johnson’s term, many of the Democrat legislators were southerners and most of these conservative. Today the left wing of the liberal wing of the party exerts hegemony. The Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader and both President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden are long time supporters of abortion on demand.

The abortionist lobby, in anticipation of a friendly reception from the new regime has submitted a fifty page, pro-abortion program involving more than a billion dollars in public funds. Among the recommendations are $65 billion for UNFPA a United Nations family planning group that promotes abortion in the third world. $700million for grants to pro-abortion clinics and organizations such as Planned Parenthood andthe repeal of the Hyde Amendment that limits Medicaid from funding abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. Obama has been a vocal opponent of Hyde and can be expected to support its repeal. In addition, the proposal asks the new President to sign an executive order repealing the Mexico City Policy that prohibits non-governmental-organizations like the UN from using US funds to finance abortion overseas. The most odious of the demands is that funding for abortion become a part of the mandatory national health insurance scheme supported by the left. President Obama is drifting right on the environment and the economy. He must give the left something of significance or risk losing his base; that thing is likely to be abortion on demand with all its attendant sorrows.

Heretofore what little use of public money for abortion has been hidden, quiet, and abroad. Abortion opponents have chosen to turn a blind eye toward it. If the above proposals become law, they - particularly Christians - will not be able to ignore it. Believers will be put to the ancient test. How will they respond when the power of government demands they pay for an activity that so grossly offends their true Sovereign?

Christians are by faith and habit quiet people. Not only are they about peacefully worshiping their Lord and raising families; they are commanded to obey their government - or civil magistrate - as an instrument of God for policing society. There are only two exceptions to this mandate, when the magistrate forbids something The Lord requires and when the magistrate commands something The Lord forbids. The question before The Church is to be; in using one's tax money to fund the killing of innocents, does the magistrate command the believer to participate in what The Lord forbids?. For the only time in our nation’s history, individual believers will have to decide whether to obey Caesar or God. The consequences of that decision are grave for the Christian, The Church and the nation.