Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain's V.P. Choice and Her Church Affilliation

There are people that expose liberal political leanings that cry out for separation of church and government especially when is convenient in aiding their candidate’s election.

Not too long ago conservatives were quick to point out that Barak Hussein Obama is not a name of Anglo-Saxon derivation, The Liberals that were vocal about this matter jumped up and shouted “Separation of Church and State.”

And when conservatives pointed out that Senator Obama has been a member for many years of the United Church of Christ led by with Pastor Jeremiah Wright, a minister that has been outspoken critic of the Caucasian race, these same Liberals jumped up and shouted, “Separation of Church and State.”

Last week John McCain surprised the world by choosing a woman as his pick for Vice-President and running mate.

I can only imagine that very soon the tides will turn when the liberal populace discovers that Governor Sarah Palin is affiliated with the Assembly of God Church. Yep, the outspoken, tongue-speakin’, laying-on-of-hands, oil-anointin’, Bible-believin’, infallible Word of God preachin’, born-again, that’s what I’m talkin’ about Assembly of God Church.

What is even worse is that Palin and her family now attend a church that is, gasp!...non-denominational.

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter wrote:

"The initial confusion surrounding Palin's denominational identity, therefore, has a simple explanation: She doesn't have one.

Instead, Palin appears to be part of that rapidly expanding galaxy of "post-denominational" Christianity, where elements of Evangelical and Pentecostal styles of faith and worship fuse into a myriad of unique local combinations, and where old denominational loyalties are essentially dead. "

Bob Smietana, the religion writer for The Tennessean states, "Looks like she's a charismatic, or charismatic leaning, if her home congregation is Church on The Rock.'

This apparently is great news for both Conservatives and Liberals.

Conservatives were running scared, thinking that McCain would chose someone who was anti-Pro-life, thus causing a dilemma in the voting booth.

Liberals now have a brand new shiny ax to grind since they not only distain Pro-lifers, but do not like those outspoken conservative Christians very much.

This brings up the question, when candidate Palin is critized for her religious ties, do you think those same vocal Liberals will be concerned about Separation of Church and State?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jews For Jesus

What a dilemma! Some Jews believe that Jesus aka Yeshua is the promised Messiah. But most Jews not only dismiss this claim and are contemptuous of this sect of Messianic Jews.

Years ago I worked at Jewish Hospital. I was an orderly when Marty Chernoff was admitted to the cardiac ward. At the time he was the "pastor" of the local Messianic Jewish congregation. I had the privilege of praying for him. This was my first contact with a Jewish fellow that believed Jesus to be Messiah.

Marty's son, Joel, went on to form a music group called Lamb. Joel is still traveling and singing the praises of Yeshua ha' Messiach. Marty's other son, David, has long been Rabbi of the Messianic congregation that Marty founded in Cincinnati, Temple Beth Yeshua relocated to the Philadelphia area.

Not so long ago I became acquainted with a Rabbi of a local Reformed Synagogue. For those of you that are not aware, Cincinnati is the birthplace of Reformed Judaism.

Several things struck me from attending the congregation as a guest. One was that it was not unlike most services at Christian Churches. Two, the people were very hospitable. This is important because hospitality to strangers is a rule of Judaism as well as other faiths derived from the Middle East. Finally their love of the One True God and their fierce desire to preserve the way of life that has been handed down for centuries.

When I first logged on to the Internet back in the late 1990's I emailed a question to Zola Levitt Ministies. I asked Rabbi Levitt if it was proper to proselytize Jews.

I wanted to know if we had the right to confront them with our system of beliefs as perhaps the main tenant of Judaism that has allowed them to survive so many attrocities and the Diaspora was the intent need for preservation of their beliefs. One of Zola's students wrote me back and told me I shouldn't question the need for presenting Jesus to Jews.

Years later I still have a problem with that advice. After all, do we not worship, pray and answer to the same God as the Jews? We believe Jesus was Messiah and they are still awaiting Messiah. We trust in Jesus and they trust in God's Law. If I read the words of Jesus correctly I believe He was directing us to worship God the Father. His purpose, as Messiah, was to return us to God, who loves us.

The first followers of Jesus were considered a sect of Judaism. They were not much different from the Messianic believers of today. I for one would rather show my love of Jesus, the Messiah, through the way that I live and present myself. I figure God can do anything.

As they say, "Der mensch trakht un Gott lahkht."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Edgar Allan Poe - Why Include Him In A Christian Blog?

I do love old time radio shows. I general tune one in at night on the drive home.

Last week's show was a short story by Edgar Allan Poe called Never Bet The Devil Your Head. The radio play featured some grand old actors that included Howard McNear and Daws Butler.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the names, but you would recognize their voices instantly. Daws Butler voiced many of the popular cartoon characters from the 1950's and 1960's such as Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Louie, Augie Doggie and Elroy Jetson to name a few.

Howard McNear was a fine stage actor with a deep voice. On radio he was the voice of Doc Adams in Gunsmoke. But his most famous character was the scatter-brained Floyd the Barber on the Andy Griffith Show.

The play was an adaption of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The author's stated theme was to prove that he could write a story that concluded with a moral.

In the actual story he goes on for two long paragraphs how certain authors have determined that stories need to provide an underlying moral lesson for the reader. He implies, tongue-in-cheek, if one is not there some scholar will find it. For example he states "Jacobus Hugo has satisfied himself that, by Euenis, Homer meant to insinuate John Calvin; by Antinous, Martin Luther; by the Lotophagi, Protestants in general; and, by the Harpies, the Dutch. Our more modern Scholiasts are equally acute. These fellows demonstrate a hidden meaning in "The Antediluvians," a parable in Powhatan," new views in "Cock Robin," and transcendentalism in "Hop O' My Thumb." In short, it has been shown that no man can sit down to write without a very profound design."

In this tale Poe becomes the narrator who tells the story of his friend, Toby Dammit, a man of many vices presumably due to physical abuse by his left-handed mother who flogged him with her left hand, which was considered to be improper. The narrator watched Toby grow from a baby to a man and continually tried to rehabilitate him to no avail.

Toby's worse vice was gambling which was impossible for a man with no known resources. So the only to wager he eventually came up with was "I'll bet the Devil my head." One can easily imagine the conclusion of the story.

The reason that include Poe's story in my blog is because it was actually a very clever attack on Transcendentalism, which was all the rage at the time among the elite writers of the day including Prominent transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Peabody and George Ripley.

Transcendentalism was a melting of religion, culture, philosophy and literature that emerged in New England and was nurtured at the Transcendental Club at Cambridge.

Among transcendentalists' core beliefs was an ideal state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual's intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions. They denied that evil existed. Their publication was called The Dial. The goals of the transcendentalists were varied; some among the group linked it with utopian social change, some with socialism and others linked it with science. Emerson became the father of New Thought and other went on to found Religious Science.

Poe thought this "New Age" movement thought to be lunacy and stated in the story that it was this disease that afflicted Toby Dammit. He calls Transcendentalists Frogpondians. The two lengthy opening paragraphs of the story are written from the perspective of an intellectual, full of great references, though I suspect some of them to be manufactured and are a poke in the eye at Transcendelists who deem themselves to be above the common man. At the story's end when Dammit is killed and the Devil does get his head, the narrator of the story sends off for help from the Homeopathics who, "did not give him little enough physic, and what little they did give him he hesitated to take. " Finally when the narrator sends the bill for his funeral expenses to the Transcendentalists, as he blames them for Dammit's morally defunct life. However they send the bill back to him. To settle the expense, Dammit is exhumed and sold for dog food. Which sounds horrid, but is the final jab as Poe equates that Transcendentalism has turned his character into dog food.

Poe's abbreviated life was tragic. For all I know he may have been an agnostic. It just strikes me as ironic that a man whom we equate with some of the most terrifying and macabre tales could see right through the charlatans and New Age hustlers of his day and call them out with such finese. One of these Transcendentalist, a writer named Thomas Holly Chivers received a letter from Poe wherein Poe states "he does not dislike Transcendentalists, only the pretenders and Sophists* among them."

*Sophists in ancient Greece were a class of itnerant intellectuals that skilled in philosophy and rhetoric. They would teach the craft in most cases for a price. Due to the emphasis in Greece for
litigiousness, the price could be a very high fee. They developed their rhetorical skill into a fine art to win arguments regardless of whether or not their point was valid. Their method made their point appear to be valid.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tisha Be'Av 5768

Yesterday was the saddest day in the Jewish year. It was Tisha Be'Av or the Ninth day of the month of Av. It is a day for all observant Jews to fast and mourn, for there were five tragedies that happened upon this same day.

The first tragedy was when Moses sent out 12 scouts to observe the Land of Canaan, the Land promised by God. Only 2 scouts, Joshua and Caleb brought back a positive report. The other 10 scouts presented negative reports. This caused a great disturbance and resistance on the people of Israel of entering the Promised Land. Therefore due to their lack of faith, God declared this day a day of crying and misfortune for the Children of Israel. God punished those who were present by not letting their generation enter the Land of Canaan.

The second and third tragedies were the destructions of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. These events occurred 656 years apart but on the same day.

The first Temple was sacked and seiged by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the Jews were enslaved and sent into exile.

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and once again Jews were enslaved or sent into exile.

In 135 CE Simon Bar Kokhba (son of the star) lead a revolt against the Romans. He was killed in the revolt. The defeat of the Bar Kokhba revolt is the fourth tragedy.

A year after the Bar Kokhba revolt, the occupying Romans layed seige and destroyed the city of Jerusalem.
This is the final tragedy that is mourned on this day.

Not surprisingly other events occurred on this same day. Jews were expelled from England in 1290 CE and in 1492 CE the Spanish Inquisition expelled Jews from Spain.

On the eve of Tisha Be'Av in 1914, World War One broke out when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment of Russian Jews from this war set the stage for the Holocaust

On the eve of Tisha Be'Av in 1942 the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka.

Orthodox Jews believe when the Messiah returns and the Temple is rebuilt this day will be one of celebration as is told in the Book of Zachariah.

I find it enlightening that God punished the entire generation of Israel by preventing them from entering the Promised Land due to their lack of faith. This theme continues when Our Lord Jesus was sacrificed for our sin. Few of the people of His day believed Him to be Messiah.

Aproximately one generation from His Death and Resurrection in 70 CE the Second Temple is Destroyed. Because of the destruction and ensuing occupation of Rome, this event effectively ended blood sacrifice by the Temple Priests and set in motion the establishment of Synagogues due to the Diaspora.

The One and True Sacrifice had been made for all those that have faith and call upon the Name of Our Lord Jesus, the Messiah. Therefore no more blood sacrifice is necessary. Hallelujah!