post

We Suffer for Our Sins; 9-11 as punishment

Word Trade Center under construction

Word Trade Center under construction

 

 

Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed for our sins

Temple in Jerusalem

nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar

The Prophets of the Bible (Jeremiah, Isaiah et al) rebuked Israel, saying we suffer for our sins.  It was Israel’s misbehavior (rather than Nebuchadnezzer’s), that caused the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem, the icon of God’s presence in the world.  Our sins were so egregious that even King Josiah’s repentance (about 2,500 years ago) was not enough to avert the decree.  It would be sacrilegious to say otherwise.

On September 11th we remember the destruction of an iconic building of our time, the World Trade Center.  And like the prophets of the past, many blame this on our sins: Western colonialism, expansionism, interference in the Middle East, racism, militarism…  In this view 9/11 was deserved payback.

Same with San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Paris, Brussels,  Madrid, etc.  The attacks were revenge for Western oppression.  The terrorism committed by European-born North-African Muslims is a direct consequence of our sins of European oppression of North Africa.

But wait!

North African oppression of Europeans preceded European colonialism.  Barbary coast (North African) slavers attacked the European coasts as far north as Ireland from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, taking as many as one and a quarter million white European captives, according to some estimates.  Unlike black Africans shipped to the Americas, these slaves did not live long enough to reproduce, have families, and eventually find freedom.

The enslavement of Europeans doesn’t fit the general theme of European world conquest and colonialism that is central to scholarship on the early modern era, he said. Many of the countries that were victims of slavery, such as France and Spain, would later conquer and colonize the areas of North Africa where their citizens were once held as slaves. Maybe because of this history, Western scholars have thought of the Europeans primarily as “evil colonialists” and not as the victims they sometimes were, Davis said.

 

America resisting the Barbary pirates

America resisting North African pirates

It would be sacrilegious for any progressive to dare declare that Islam is the problem with Islamic terrorism.  They will jump through any hoop to blame terror on its victims.  Disposing of Saddam Hussein, the savage despot of Iraq, supporting Israel, failure to accommodate Shariah law… Every historical grudge fantasy is dredged up to illustrate our sins.

But just as King Josiah’s ancient repentance was insufficient, only complete submission to Islam’s prophet can atone for past resistance to his bloody demands.  We’re moving fast down the road to compliance, to surrender.  And like Josiah’s repentance, it won’t help.

America submitting to Iranian pirates

America submitting to Iranian pirates

 

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.” 
― Winston S. ChurchillThe River War

post

God is sanctified through those near to Him

Ferguson "protest"

Ferguson “protesters” burning

In August 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, eighteen year old Michael Brown, a suspected thief, was killed while attacking a police officer. “Protesters” expressed their dismay by looting business, burning buildings and torching police cars.   Brown’s family members, those supposedly near to him physically attacked one another over who had the right to profit from souvenirs. Truth was not welcome; witnesses had their lives threatened for testifying that Brown was the aggressor, rather than the police. The death of a single suspected criminal was turned into a tragedy for a community, for a nation.

“I don’t think we can prevent folks who really are intent on destroying a community.”

In April, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland, twenty-five year old Freddie Gray, a convicted narcotics dealer died while in police custody. More than three hundred and eighty businesses and institutions were attacked in the subsequent riots, including a

Baltimore "protest" looters

Baltimore “protesters” looting

seniors’ residence, a pharmacy, liquor stores… Many small, family owned stores— many without proper insurance were destroyed. The economic consequences of the riots will make life even harder for people who burned their neighborhoods down. The violence has made life much more dangerous, with murder rates skyrocketing. Police are afraid or unwilling to act, knowing they could be arrested for doing their job.

“To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment. This is your moment.”

Near to Him in Charleston

In June, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, a young man sat in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church for an hour, before pulling out a gun and killing

  • Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a well-known community leader, civil rights advocate and state senator

    Nearer to Him

    Near to God

  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a high-school girls’ track and field coach, and reverend at her local church
  • Tywanza Sanders, a 2014 graduate of Allen University’s division of business administration
  • Myra Thompson, wife of the Vicar of Holy Trinity REC Church in Charleston
  • Ethel Lee Lance, a 70-year-old grandmother who had worked at the church for 30 years
  • Susie Jackson, 87, a longtime church member
  • Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74, a retired pastor from another church
  • DePayne Middleton-Doctor, a former manager at the U.S. Department of Commerce and community development director

None of the victims were known for violent or criminal activities. In the aftermath of the massacre, the families of the victims forgave the killer. No buildings were destroyed. No police cars were overturned.  The so-called ‘Reverend’ Al Sharpton was ignored. A few days later, the church re-opened for Sunday services, and was filled with those near to Him (God).  Their prayers were the ultimate protest against violence, racism and evil.  A country stood awed by their power.

“Even if my life is worth less than a speck of dirt, I want to use it for the good of society”— Dylann Roof

Malignant Hatred original art by Esti Mayer

Malignant Hatred
original art by Esti Mayer

Near to Him

‘I will be sanctified through those near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’

During the Biblical Exodus from Egypt in the Sinai desert, the two sons of the High Priest Aaron (Moses’ brother) were killed by a fire from the Lord. Moses told God’s words to his brother: ‘I will be sanctified through those near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ Aaron didn’t protest; he was silent, and then God spoke directly to him, rather than through Moses.

There are many discussions as to why Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu were killed, but they’re just speculation. We do know that they were among those near to God.

Dylann Roof offered his reasons for the Charleston massacre in a rambling manifesto. It’s still hard to understand why these nine people died in church. But we can be sure that they were among those near to God. The forgiveness offered by the victims’ families was an awe-inspiring sanctification of His name. The strength possessed through their connection to the divine enabled them to rise above the bitterness of their suffering. Unexpected death, instead of bringing the depravity and violence of Ferguson and Baltimore, brought the sanctification of God, as happened with Aaron’s sons in the Sinai desert. Mankind was able to demonstrate its capacity for nobility and strength. God was revealed not in the horrific deaths, but in the dignity of the families; of those near to Him.

“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you. And [may God] have mercy on your soul.”

post

The Face of Evil Today

The Bible Names Its Enemies:

The Bible names its enemies: Egypt, Amalek, the Philistines, and many others.  For each of them the Bible spells out why they are considered the

Joseph Dwells in Egypt, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

Joseph Dwells in Egypt by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

enemy, and what to do about them.  We are told not to hate the Egyptians because we were strangers in their land. We were also refugees there, and military allies.  Though Pharaoh did evil, Egypt doesn’t embody wickedness.

Amalek is the face of evil in the Bible,  the paradigmatic bad guy.  The nation attacked the Jewish people shortly after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. The Bible, in response, promised “a war for the Lord against Amalek from generation to generation.” Amalek is linked to Haman, who tried to eradicate the Jews of the Persian Empire. Even Nazi Germany is fancifully tied to them.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher and moral voice for our time. A towering intellectual and prolific author, he is respected and revered by Jews and non-Jews alike. He examined the face of evil in a recent essay in which he wrote that the Egyptians hated and enslaved the Israelites, because they feared their strength. When the reason for the hatred would disappear so would the hatred, because of rational self-interest.

Amalek, on the other hand, attacked the Israelites simply because they could. It was an irrational hatred that could not disappear when the reason disappeared, because there was no reason. Rabbi Sacks explains it is this irrational face of evil that the Bible demands we remember.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

The Face of Evil Beneath the Heart:

The Rabbi explains:

It is easy at times of peace to forget the evil that lies just beneath the surface of the human heart. Never was this truer than in the past three centuries. The birth of Enlightenment, toleration, emancipation, liberalism and human rights persuaded many, Jews among them, that collective evil was as extinct as the Amalekites. Evil was then, not now. That age eventually begat nationalism, fascism, communism, two World Wars, some of the brutal tyrannies ever known, and the worst crime of man against man.

In the peaceful times that followed World War II, many Americans, Canadians, and Europeans forgot again about the face of evil, the irrational hatred which dwells in many hearts. The troubles in the world were attributed to the evil acts of the strong and powerful, to legacy of colonialism. The violence in South-East Asia, the Middle East, were explained away as rational responses to the legacy of western imperialism.

the face of evil

the face of evil

Refusing to Recognize the Face of Evil:

On September 11, 2001, it became impossible to ignore the face of evil, casting its evil eye. Although many people still searched for explanations or conspiracies, there was nothing to rationalize the brutal terror unleashed upon America. Rabbi Sacks declares:

Today, the great danger is terror (emphasis added)

…That is why are commanded to remember and never forget Amalek, not because the historic people still exists, but because a society of rational actors can sometimes believe that the world is full of rational actors with whom one can negotiate peace. It is not always so.

The Rabbi Is Wrong:

Rabbi Sacks is wrong. The greatest danger is not terror. It’s radical Islam, which is the source of virtually all contemporary terrorism.

One cannot remember, never mind confront the face of evil if you refuse to call it by its name. We are not commanded ‘not to hate’ the chariot riders (Egypt), or to remember what the attackers of the weak (Amalek) did. We don’t identify these enemies by their military techniques. Terror is a technique, used to demoralize and crush. It is being used by the adherents of a specific religion, in the name of their religion. Victims may refuse to identify the purveyors of fear as Muslims, but the terrorists aren’t shy about it. A politician, a journalist, a Rabbi might say that terror isn’t Islamic, but the Muslims terrorists say it is. An Orthodox rabbi is not a higher authority on Islam than the many Muslims who proclaims terror as an integral part of their faith.  The Muslims who oppose them don’t deny the nature of their violence. A Brooklyn Imam, identifying radical Islam as a “cancer,” said:

“These scholars consider any verse that calls to treat people with kindness to have been abrogated. All that remains valid is ‘Kill! Slaughter!’ Is that the only thing that God tells us? …Muslims of the religious sector are time bombs.”

Put a Name to the Face of Evil:

Moses at the battle against Amalek

Moses at the battle against Amalek

If we refuse to name the contemporary Amalek, surely we cannot remember them.   If we’re too afraid to name them, they are winning.

In the first Biblical encounter with Amelek, Moses, the leader of the Israelites held up his arms during the battle, and the people were inspired to victory. The leaders of today such are not raising their hands, and the people hesitate to fight back. Rabbi Sacks says the evil is “terror.” The Dalai Lama says it’s not fair to associate terrorism with Islam.  Gandhi, the icon of nonviolence rationalized “…if Hindus became Muslims to save themselves from death, it was …not forcible conversion.”  The failure to identify, never mind remember the face of evil, the contemporary Amalek, is a violation of an obligation to God, of a responsibility to mankind.

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

post

God or the Devil?

Who would you rather be: God or the devil?  We have job descriptions for each, in case you’re having trouble deciding.

Glen Beck says that America has already made its choice between God or the Devil.  Is it too late for the country to change its mind?  We’ll know more on November 4th.

(please click images to follow links)

If_You_Were_God

Job description

devil

Job description

 

A hundred years ago, Robert Johnson sang about the consequences of making the wrong choice.

If you’re still unsure and want some background information, this essay describes the  contrasting views of the devil in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

You don’t actually have to be God or the devil.  But you do have to choose.

re-ay

Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil…

bachem hayom

This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live…

Burning Original art by Esti Mayer

Burning
Original art by Esti Mayer