Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blog Thoughts for March 7, 2014

"Russia threatens to abandon the dollar as its reserve currency"

Obama threatened Russia's financial standing, but with China already attempting to trade the Yen for the dollar, it could all blow up in the American President's face.
From the Daily Caller story: "The Kremlin’s chief economic adviser, Sergei Glazyev, suggested the plan, which would call for Russia to either entirely abandon the dollar or to use a system that wouldn’t require the U.S. dollar to conduct international transactions.  'If sanctions are applied against state structures, we will be forced to recognize the impossibility of repayment of the loans that the US banks gave to the Russian structures.'

But Why.....

"Seth Pickens, LA Pastor Who Penned '10 Reasons I Love LGBTQ Folk,' Addresses 'Spin' Over Zion Hill Baptist Church 'Tribunal'"

The Christian Post apparently wants to be an online newspaper that deals in news of the Christian church and family.  However, reputable news reporters usually adhere to the eight elements of news -- .
The story linked above becomes a news story because the subject of that story, Rev. Seth Pickens, is acting outside the norm.  But we don't know if the reporter is claiming the norm is to affirm homosexuals or hold them to scripture.  Pickens seems to affirm them, so it would seem that's the way the reporter leans, but that would make this a piece of advocacy journalism.  That kind of journalism tells you only what the reporter wants you to know, not necessarily the whole story.
In fact, there's an entire side of this story missing.  For example, the reporter quotes Rev. Pickens repeated talking about how he "feels", but no specific justification, no root cause of those feelings.  He speaks out against Christian orthodoxy, with no explanation of what he means by "orthodoxy."  He indicates "the church" disapproves of homosexuality without  explaining why the Christian church would do that.  From Genesis to Jude, scripture is replete with how God deals with sexual perversion.
In truth, Rev. Pickens walks a very fine line where homosexuality is concerned, and it would be good to know how he discerns that line in light of scripture.
The reporter touches on the disagreements between Pickens, his church Board, and the church membership.  Indications are that there are lessons to be shared from Christian behavioral and organizational management points of view, but they are lacking.  As is the depth of this story.  As published it tantalizes and titillates just enough to draw readership, in the same way as the National Enquirer and other market scandal sheets.
It's not enough for a follower of Jesus Christ to do the right thing, those who observe need to understand why.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Way of the World, March 4, 2014

Blog Thoughts
Today, March 4th, CBS News ran a video of their reporter Seth Doan attending a press conference in China.  This is a not a new practice for the Chinese government, to allow Western reporters to attend.  But questions must be written out and submitted in advance, and the government will decide which questions will be asked.  The last time CBS was allowed to ask a question was 10 years ago, they said.  Seth Doan's submitted question, which the government selected to be asked, had to do with tensions between China and Japan over certain islands.  Doan's question asked if China's neighbors had reason to be concerned over China's recent military build-up.
The Chinese Congressional spokesperson replied, "We think it takes power to maintain and preserve peace."
As I listened, I thought, "Mr. President, I hope you are both listening and that you understand."  Because if the Chinese are right, and common sense would indicate they are, then when the world is on fire with threats of war and military confrontations, slashing America's troop strength should be the last thing done to "maintain and preserve peace."
Now, understand that when you see the Chinese government taking action, this is something they have thought about and considered for often five to ten years.  That action is taken, publicly, only because after long strategic consideration the events over that period of time have convinced them this is the correct strategy, the right decision, and now is the time.
Perhaps the United States government could benefit by backing off quick-draw decisions and think about things for a while.  Sometimes doing nothing at all proves to be the best action in the long run.
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Thank God It Still Happens
Recently I had a conversation online with a fellow who seemed to be of the opinion that America's only interest in helping others around the world was for the purpose of empire-building.  Of course, it's a matter of history that unlike nations of old, whenever Americans participated in armed hostilities they have never claimed a portion of that land for America.  But I didn't raise that point because the discussion was really about America having ulterior motives in reaching out to help others, internally or externally.
That got me to thinking, and I suppose you could put ulterior motives to nearly everything anyone does, as a farmer, a plumber, businessman or politician.  But the Christian scriptures point out that it's by their works that we should know others, not by looking over their shoulder every minute to demand justification for each moment of work.
When one of the posters in that discussion ended a very thoughtful post with this sentence:  "We witness in large and small ways and in the end the world will be transformed," that really sent my thoughts into hyper drive.  He was speaking my language!

My own response immediately was "Amen, amen and amen. And to the end that belief and faith, like politics, is local, often the only way it will happen."  Then I began to think, if asked, what had I seen and heard that would speak to that opinion?
That thought put me in mind of some people I want to bear witness to in this arena. James has pointed out that if you "love" the naked and hungry and say nice things to them without feeding or clothing them, that isn't Christ's kind of love. For 17 years I worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, so that I was often in the midst of disasters, the results of flooding, tornadoes, all sorts. Other than the presence of Red Cross and FEMA, sometimes helpful sometimes not, the one presence we could count on were the trucks and buses of the Southern Baptist and the Church of Christ. While the Red Cross and FEMA were holding press conferences promising help that sometimes never quite measured up, these other good people rolled in unbound by regulations insofar as they were allowed access, distributing hot meals, water, blankets and shoulders to cry on. There was no proselytizing just human hands to help however they could. It took money and chunks of time out of volunteers' lives to do that, but thank God it still goes on.
Now, the Corps of Engineer people with whom I worked are "just folks", but because of their vocation, they are nearly all people of educational degrees, intelligent, creative, compassionate. But we were hidebound by regulations and FEMA interference. So we were always pleased in the days after, when the cameras and press conference leaders had all gone home, to see individual churches from across the nation arriving with work crews, the elderly, teenagers, middle aged, with hammers and nails and lumber. While the victims made do and waited on promises, the followers of Jesus Christ cleaned up unbelievable messes, in homes and in lives, and just helped wherever they could. Thank God it still happens. Nobody said are you a fundamentalist, a millennialist, old school, new school. They just worked together and prayed together.
During my life of growing up through the Free Methodist Church, the Baptist -- Southern and otherwise -- the United Methodists and the Disciples of Christ, those are the Christian works, in faith, that I know. That is what led Christians through our short history as a nation to build hospitals and schools and colleges, and just take care of people, whatever tag they're wearing. Thank God it still happens.
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Today comes the headline: "BREAKING: Russia Warns Ukraine: Surrender By 5:00 AM Tomorrow, Or Face Military ‘Storm’," published in the Independent Journalism Review at

Since the President skipped Monday's NSA security briefing, you sort of hope someone interrupted he and the friends he had over to the White House for drinks, letting him know his sword rattling may have dangerous consequences.  Pres. Putin, growing up in the KGB and leaving it to be Russia's President, has proved himself to be a man of action, while America's Community Organizer in Chief has proved himself to be a man of talk.  Pres. Obama's naked threats and warnings to Putin proved as hollow as Putin thought they were. 

The whole Washington D.C. drill is all too reminiscent of the 1956 events where Russian troops crushed a Hungarian revolution, killing 250 Hungarians.  The United States had encouraged the Hungarians to stand up for freedom and break free of Russian rule, but when they did, America stood on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets.  It is for this kind of hypocrisy that the United States is becoming known.  Also in the news today was this headline: "Cynical Syrians Advise Ukrainians: Don’t Get Up Your Hopes That the U.S. Will Help", found at

American went to war on behalf of the people of South Vietnam, the pulled out and left them to a blood bath on the part of the North Vietnamese Army.

America went to war on behalf of the Iraqi people, then pulled out and left them to the mercy of al Qaeda.

America went to war on behalf of the Afghanistan people, then pulled out and left them to the mercy of al Qaeda.

Now America encourages the people of Syria and the Ukraine to stand up to their attackers, while America engages in the same old mistakes, again.  When Washington, D.C., chose to use federal funding to influence events, they ended up funding the Muslim forces who were killing and raping Syrian Christians and destroying their homes and churches.

Under no circumstances am I suggesting America needs to put boots on the ground in these two situations.  But it would be good if America stopped taking sides and put as many diplomats and diplomatic actions in place as we would boots on the ground or money into armament.

Are there any adults in charge in Washington, D.C.?  The employment of a little critical thinking would go a long way to getting returned to our nation some of its character and integrity in the world.