Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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The Missing Word in Esther

September 7, 2012

In the Old Testament of the Bible, one of the most intriguing stories is that of Esther.  Essentially, Esther wins a beauty contest and, as a prize, she is forced to join the King’s harem. The Medes and the Persians were a middle-eastern jointly-ruled kingdom of the sixth century B.C. The King had just exiled (and possibly put to death) the former queen for overstepping her authority and totally disobeying a direct order from the King.

This wasn’t Macbeth. Queens in those days did not talk back. Esther was chosen among all the beautiful women in the kingdom to be the next Queen.

I’ll let you read the book for yourself. In the end, Esther saves the Jewish people (she herself is a Jewess) and a national festival is enacted to commemorate her feat. It is a story of intrigue, power, greed, hatred and fear: But more than anything it is about God’s sovereignty over all the other things.

Yet strangely enough, a particular word is completely missing from the book of Esther. And you can read it several times and not even notice it is missing. And this word is so essential to the Jews and Christians that you would think the book would be banned for not containing it. Have you guessed the word yet?

The word is…..GOD.

For a book that has God as the underpinning, God as the director of events, God as the ultimate focal point, it is interesting that God is not mentioned in the entire book. Why would God (who co-authored this book according to Judeo/Christian doctrine) neglect to mention himself in the book?

I believe that God wants to underscore that He is at work in all nations, all people groups, all situations and desires to protect his people, even if we don’t notice what God is up to.

The reason I bring this up at this point in our nation’s history is so I can point out something regarding the two Political Conventions that have taken place over the past month. It seems that both parties have been scrambling to put a particular word INTO their message as much as possible. It’s the same word that Esther left out: GOD.

Why did they want to do that? For the same reason that people want God’s name on our currency, in our constitution, in our Pledge of Allegiance, on public buildings and Foundation stones. I believe many people want to include the name of God in things as a talisman, a good luck charm to convince others of what we are.

As a contrast, God didn’t write his name into Esther because He didn’t need to. Those with eyes to see can see the hand of God everywhere. Those who could not see God’s hand (such as Haman) would not have seen any clearer if God had been mentioned more. Or, at all.

Both major political parties want to score points with religiously-minded voters by throwing in God’s name. Of course, some truly feel they are honoring God by doing so, but I am not so sure it accomplishes their goal. Have you ever seen a child that wants something from a parent. They might start whining, “Mom, mom, mom, mom….” over and over. Does this endear them to their mother? Hardly! The same thing is true when political parties mention God’s name over and over. Most people stop listening. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of mentioning God?

God is not impressed when we keep saying His name over and over. In fact, there are many biblical scholars (I am not one of them, but I respect them) who will not write out the name of God in any form because it is too holy a concept to speak or write. Often they will write “G_D” and leave out a vowel to signify respect. That sure beats the person who prays and mentions God’s name about 100 times per minute.

Now for the other perspective. I was on the golf course a year ago with a friend when his doctor called. He had been battling cancer for several years. The doctor was calling to say that, for some reason, there was no trace of cancer anywhere in his body. The doctor kept saying “There can only be one explanation” over and over. In the entire conversation, neither of them mentioned God’s name. Yet in the end, they both knew who had brought about the remission of that cancer.

Even the doctor knew it wasn’t him.

But, when God’s name is thrown out like a loose thing, an empty thing, when God’s name is slathered all over dollar bills and is found on the lips of many people who don’t even believe there is a God, it is a pretense at best and a mockery at worst.

One of the Ten Commandments is that we NOT take the name of our Lord God in vain. That doesn’t mean as a swear word. “Vain” means “empty”. It is wrong to use God’s name in an empty fashion, as many did in their political platforms and as many do with their money.

We should care more about the Presence of God working through his people than with the name of God used as a slogan. I would be content if neither political party mentioned God ever again, in exchange for the people of God who are in those parties living like Esther.

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One Unintended Result of Wikileaks

December 3, 2010

I don’t want to add anything to the debate over Wikileaks – as in, “is this going to threaten the lives of our troops” or “how accurate can all of this really be”. I can’t get into those debates because I don’t care to read all the gobbledygook in the leaks themselves.

I am more interested in society’s reactions to the leaked material. I note with interest Theodore Dalrymple’s assessment of the real danger in this article: What’s Really Wrong with WikiLeaks by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal 2 December 2010. One quote will suffice:

A reign of assumed virtue would be imposed, in which people would say only what they do not think and think only what they do not say.

He speculates we will monitor what we say more carefully with the fear our private thoughts will become public knowledge. But is that as bad as he suggests? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to put a rein on our tongues, even in private conversation? I can’t see anything wrong with personally editing everything we say, even in seemingly private conversations. Gossip, jealousy, boasting, bitterness, no matter how small the forum into which we speak them, are all damaging.

The tongue is a small member, but it can set an entire forest on fire.

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Lying Redefined

May 19, 2010

The long-standing Attorney General of Connecticut has been caught and skewered by his own words. According to this New York Times investigative report, he has publicly claimed to have served in Vietnam in the 70s, whereas records show he never left our country.

As he realized he had been caught in a lie, here is his response (in part):

Surrounded by supporters and veterans, Mr Blumenthal made an admission of sorts. “I did mispeak on a few occasions out of hundreds I have attended,” he said. But he added: “I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record.

Lying is called “misspeaking”. Of course, it is misspeaking, if what he means is he should not have spoken what he did. But he clearly is implying he accidentally claimed to have been in Vietnam on more than one occasion.

Is it any wonder our faith in politicians is at an all-time low? But before any of us feel “high and mighty”, let’s review the things we said yesterday. Did we “misspeak” in any way? Any exaggerations? Any judgmental or cynical comments about co-workers or friends? Did we lead people to believe we are one thing when we truly are something else?

I’ll stop. I don’t like what I see in the mirror.

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Is Retirement Healthy, Biblical or Smart?

March 17, 2010

Perhaps you are unaware of this, but one proposal before Congress is to raise the retirement age of Social Security.  The purpose of this is to help “save” Social Security from insolvency, a condition we are quickly heading toward. Other countries have already raised the age at which their retirees can collect a pension from the government, primarily because of two factors: 1. We are living longer; 2. That first factor is making pensions more expensive.

This article in Newsweek even goes as far to suggest that we shouldn’t give out Social Security until age 67. Do you remember the commercials on television a decade ago, where an insurance company promises you can retire at age 55? Do you wonder why you don’t see those any more? Read the rest of this entry ?

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Can the Majority Take Away the Rights of the Minority

March 6, 2009

This is from my Facebook posting this morning.

In the Supreme Court of California today, they continue the debate on Proposition 8. The question posed by opponents is this: Should the Majority be allowed to take away rights of the Minority? As Ken Starr pointed out yesterday, the question is not “Can they?” for that is well established in the rule of Law in America. The question is properly “should they?”.

When you ask a “should” question, it is an inquiry into morals and ethics. In order to decide the answer, you must know the basis of a country’s ethical decisions. John Locke, the English politician and scientist, proposed that no rule of law (except one) can exist without a moral consensus. A moral consensus is an agreed upon higher law that all human laws are based. That may be a religious book, a belief in God or in a higher code of law. If you do not have a moral consensus, there is no basis upon which to answer any question of what “should” happen.

After all, who is to say what constitutes a “right”? If it doesn’t come from an agreed upon higher law, then how can anyone say there is an absolute right or wrong?

Locke did recognize that there is an alternative to Moral Consensus: the opinion of the Majority. If you cannot agree as a nation on a higher rule of law, then you must define law by the mood of the public.

In California, that means the majority can decide to limit any rights they choose – especially when those rights are not defined or spelled out.

Therefore, the homosexual marriage lobby is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They cannot appeal to any Moral Consensus for their “should” – no religion or rule of Natural Law accepts homosexual behavior – so they must court public opinion. And at the moment, it is not in their favor.

Or am I missing something?

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Talking Points on Homosexual Marriage

November 18, 2008

After reading yet another debate on the newspaper website (with over 300 comments so far and no end in sight) I had the following reactions. First, I noticed how often proponents of Gay marriage think that Christians are hateful, spiteful and bigoted. They also call us narrow-minded, hide-bound and fanatics. Since none of those adjectives describes me or most Christians I know, I am intrigued at why the so-called “No on 8” crowd has come to these conclusions about us. Second, I am annoyed at how poorly some Christians are debating this issue with those who are not believers in God or the Bible. We need to explain ourselves reasonably and with a good attitude.

Thus, I want to suggest some talking points that Christians can use which may help the “No on 8” crowd at least listen to us instead of throwing epithets at our psyches.

Not About Rights: To us, this debate on homosexual marriage is not about rights. I personally do not object to permanent homosexual relationships having the same legal and inheritance rights as married couples. And this is what we need to emphasize. If it is just about equal rights and not about what we call a homosexual relationship, then everyone should be happy, no? Read the rest of this entry ?

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How Christians Can Vote “Less”

November 4, 2008

It is time for a little less in this election rather than more. There are ways that Christians can be less than other people, ways that we can actually lose what others have. And these things are worth living without.

Wouldn’t you expect that someone who has a worldview that differs from the mainstream would vote with a viewpoint that is different? You could expect it, but I don’t think it is often the case. As far as I’m concerned, who you vote for (or what) cannot be as important as the worldview with which you vote. Here are five less things that a follower of Jesus can have while voting today:

1. Hypeless: One thing the Bible clearly tells us is “man looks on the outward appearance and God looks at the heart”. Though we can’t see into the heart of every candidate, we can look past the outward appearance. A Christian should be able to put the hype and hoopla of every candidate aside and look at the deeper things of their life.

2. Soundless: The prayer instructions in Matthew’s Gospel apply here too. Don’t be like the pagans that just like to hear themselves pray. (As I write this in the Islands, I can hear a guy with a loudspeaker outside who is loudly proclaiming who to vote for). We are instructed to go into our closets to pray. A believer in Jesus Christ might want to spend the voting day asking God about his opinions and listen with a receiving heart and with a mind wide open. It doesn’t matter who the pastor is voting for. Who is God supporting? That is who is going to be in power (by God’s allowance).

3. Stressless: We don’t need to cheer if the person (or proposition) we voted for prevails. Neither do we have to moan if they don’t. We believe that God knows all things and knows how to handle anyone in power. He did a good job with Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar, didn’t he? Therefore, don’t stress the results. Our God reigns.

4. Partyless: You may be a member of a particular party but, (and this may come as a shock) God isn’t. He has followers in every party and there are those who are godless in every party. A believer doesn’t tote any line unless it is God’s line. The question, as Joshua discovered, is not “whose side is God on” but rather “who is on the Lord’s side”?

5. Distractionless: Hopefully, a believer in Jesus Christ does the civic duty of voting and then goes on to other affairs in life. Don’t spend days or weeks discussing all the pros and cons of each decision. Let the election season come to an end and move on with life. In fact, move on with life even before you vote. All living is local…you can’t live internationally. You have to live your life now, where you live, with those people you know. You don’t live in Washington (unless you do) and you certainly don’t live in the White house (unless you live in a white house, but that doesn’t count). Wherever you are, be all there.

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