Friday, January 27, 2012

Abolish War, For the People's Sake!

A quiet celebration took place in Baghdad not long ago. Highly acclaimed in political circles, it left no "Mission Accomplished" ... no victory parade for nine years work … no cheering crowds grateful for freedom from Saddam. Associated Press reported it “officially declared end to its mission in Iraq with a business-like closing ceremony behind blast-proof walls.”

Nine years killed 4,500 Americans, and more than 100,000 Iraqis. Other damages included 32,000 wounded Americans, “far more Iraqis wounded,” and $800 billion drained from our public treasury. Initially supported as an extension of 9/11, that proved fraudulent and left Iraq fractured by violence and fearful of its future. Defense Secretary Panetta told troops, "You will leave with great pride — lasting pride ... Secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to begin a new chapter in history."

Views vary however.” AP quoted Mariam Khazim as saying, "With this withdrawal, the Americans are leaving behind a destroyed country.“ A Shiite whose father was killed when a mortar shell struck his home in Sadr City, concluded, "The Americans did not leave modern schools or big factories behind them. Instead, they left thousands of widows and orphans. The Americans did not leave a free people and country behind them, in fact they left a ruined country and a divided nation."

Others celebrated our exit as “neither invited nor welcome”. An Iraqi lawmaker declared "The American ceremony represents the failure of the U.S. occupation of Iraq due to the great resistance of the Iraqi people." Many were grateful for ousting Saddam, but most agreed the war lasted too long.

On the other hand, Gen. Lloyd Austin, top U.S. commander in Iraq, closed our Iraqi bases and outposts, and methodically relocated more than 50,000 U.S. troops and their equipment out of Iraq, while “still conducting training, security assistance and counterterrorism battles.” He added this insight: The war "tested our military's strength and our ability to adapt and evolve." He also noted the development of the new counterinsurgency doctrine. Despite the war's toll and unpopularity, claimed Secretary Panetta it "has not been in vain."

I beg to differ with Mr. Secretary Panetta. That view of the political powers is what keeps the Military Industrial Complex at the throttle of American political life, manipulating Main Street America into supporting causes not in the best interest of the citizenry.

By ending Iraq, the powers that be can now focus on Afghanistan, but we are still at war; we are still losing sons and daughters--substitutes--for those signing the decrees of war. We are doing little “nation building” abroad or at home. Rather, we politicize the National Debt, while continually losing ground on our own “nation building.” All the while, entrenched powers seek better ways to take more from the masses and funnel to the already powerful and wealthy.

The AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMISSION noted that the first four years in Iraq cost “us” $1 trillion and projected that for every “ONE DAY in Iraq“ we could have funded -
95,364 Head Start Places for Children or
12,478 Elementary School Teachers or
163,525 People with Health Care or
34,904 Four Year College Scholarships or 6,482 Families with Homes.

Now in my eighth decade, I suggest today is pregnant with opportunity for people-of-peace to rise up, occupy the seats of power, and establish peace policies for peaceful people. Citizens would happily co-exist, were it not for the politicians and the people in power.

Consider the following:
“If, early that year [1787], you had stood on a London street corner and insisted slavery was morally wrong and should be stopped, nine out of ten listeners would have laughed you off as a crackpot. The tenth might have agreed with you in principle, but assured you that ending slavery was wildly impractical: the British Empire’s economy would collapse. The Parliamentarian Edmund Burke ... opposed slavery but thought that the prospect of ending even just the Atlantic slave trade was ‘chimerical.’ Within a few short years, however, the issue of slavery had moved to center stage in British political life. There was an abolition committee in every major city or town … more than 300,000 Britons were refusing to eat slave-grown sugar. Parliament was flooded with far more signatures than it had ever received on any other subject. And in 1792, the House of Commons passed the first law banning the slave trade … It would become interwoven with great historical currents which, on that afternoon in the George Yard printing shop in 1787, no one foresaw…” (Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 2005, p. 7).

From that Quaker Print Shop in May 1787 came 9 Quaker men and 3 Anglican men--12 strongly Evangelical Christians that gave their lives opposing slavery. They established Britain’s Abolitionist Movement and launched a human tidal wave of advocacy for human rights now extending far beyond the Christian Church.

Yet, it all began 2000 years ago with a man called Jesus. Today, approximately 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 per day. Some 9.2 million children (25,000 per day) under the age of 5 die yearly, mostly from preventable diseases. We have 2.5 billion people without access to adequate sanitation, and about 900 million without access to clean water. Nearly 11,500 people die every day from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Is this not reason enough for peaceful-people-everywhere to turn from the violence of war and commit our lives to peace on earth among all people of good will?

From Warner‘s World … walkingwithwarner.blogspot

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interspersing Truth with Half-Truths

In May 1787, a core group of British abolitionists (9 Quaker evangelicals and 3 evangelical Anglicans), led by the Reverend Granville Sharp, financed establishment of a new, free and self-governing, twenty square-mile project of black and white residents--mostly former black slaves. In time, the project failed, but the sponsors believed their efforts would prove the wrongness of slavery and the profitableness-and-productivity of black Africans and products produced by free people in a free market.

From Adam Hochschild, I quote:
“In honor of Sharp, the settlers named their collection of tents and gardens Granville Town. But the bedraggled settlement’s shoreline bordered the deep-water shipping channel in the Sierra Leone River used by slave ships sailing a dozen miles upstream to collect their cargoes at Bance Island. Its former owner, Richard Oswald, was dead, but two of his nephews had inherited control and operated their own slave vessels as well as selling slaves to others.

“Their agent in charge was outraged when an abolitionist Utopia run by a ‘very dangerous bad set of people’ suddenly appeared next door. The colonists, he declared, had ‘intermixed with the Natives and have by telling them a number of Falsehoods given them a great many bad Notions of White Men in general that has made them more saucy and troublesome than ever they were known before’” (Hochschild/Bury the Chains/Houghton-Mifflin/2005, emphasis added).

In 2012, political debates banter back and forth, reeking of similar-and- samo-samo arguments of truth twisted into half-truths - like Newt Gingrich defending his adulterous marriage by attacking the news media on national television.

America enjoys its reputation as the land of the free--the one global neighborhood where people enjoy social justice and liberty, yet Civil Rights and ethical behavior finds it difficult sledding in the American economic system. Just the Mexican emigrant, or the homeless man sleeping under the bridge. Look about and you see fraud on Wall Street, with white-collar criminals thriving in obscene wealth, protected by flags of legality, created by cronies and government bureaucrats who “set“ the rules of the financial game that allows them to bilk the public ever more.

Become a neighbor to evil and call for right political behavior and you hear the 21st century version repeating the earlier versions. Call for a reasonable health care for everybody, and listen to how certain monopolistic interests of private profiteers swap your argument and give you a wretched name, as your due for advocating for democratic and human rights. You are now a leftfield liberal, socialist, Communist, or something worse; you are an enemy of free enterprise because you challenged their libertarian right to unfettered greed (the lion's share).

Slavery did not end with the British Abolitionists and the American Civil Rights Act. We want to believe it, but we continue seeing new evidences daily, of human slavery and bondage of every sort in 2012. While our political system tries to hide under the cover of Democracy, the existing economic bondage increases as the disparity between the diminishing middle class and the increasingly wealthy 1% grows to alarming proportions .

Globally, sex slaves are everywhere. Pornography booms on Internet airlines, and sex slavers reach their tentacles into West Michigan, as well as Cambodia. All the while, the 3rd World lives in poverty and drinks polluted water.

You see why I find it so interesting that an enraged slaver of 1787 could belittle his new abolitionist neighbors, call them utopian, and very bad people that give slave traders a bad name, and make natives saucy and troublesome to control. According to the slavers, they benefited the slaves by Christianizing them, civilizing them, and providing them with a wholesome, healthy livelihood that was indeed pleasant and beneficial to all. Moreover, they were benefiting British life by stimulating the economy with sugar and various plantation products and producing jobs from which their whole culture benefited, so they claimed.No one believes such rubbish today!

In 2012, civil and human rights are accepted for everyone rather than the privileged, but in 1787 King George III was King and no man had any vote in the House of Lords.
*One male in ten could vote for the House of Commons.
*The only redress for citizens was the possibility of a petition. Quoting Hochschild, “The right of petition was recognized in the Magna Carta, the charter of liberties demanded from a resentful King John in 1215, restated forcefully in the Bill of Rights won by the Brits in 1689, and was considered important enough to be enshrined in the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” (Hochschild/138).

So in this land, where we can all cast our votes, let us more seriously exercise our right to vote, and let us under God make sure we vote in ways that protects the life and liberty of the oldest as well as the youngest, and everyone in between - as the Bible teaches us to do?

From Warner's World, don't allow your vote to twist a truth into a half-truth that hurts people ...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Regarding Women In Ministry

January 2, 2012--I pause, tongue in cheek--to share with my Missouri friend Joan Hart, pastor at Oakland Heritage Church in rural Lebanon, MO and her female peers. Women clergy have been subject to the thorny issues of Women in Ministry at various times and places in the Church of God--weighty discussions.

We traditionally ordain women preachers. We also refuse to bend, bow, or budge, when it comes to holding the more significant positions and pastorates et al for the male wage earners. In some places, it has been a totally dead issue since Adam and Eve--only heretics recognize female clergy.

For whatever it is worth, FWIW, here is an article that speaks to some of my clergy peers, because it comes from the pages of The Gospel Trumpet (1-24-1895). I cannot be certain D. S. Warner wrote it, but for those for whom The Gospel Trumpet means something, you can file it with traditional authority. If it means little or nothing to you, file it wherever you please.

The column is subtitled “Ordination of Women” and the author concludes:

“A brother writes that there is a disturbance of the peace and the unity of the body in their place over this matter: the ordination of female elders and deaconesses. ‘Some of the ministers, he says, have already taken a stand against ordaining women, and are teaching it, and the result is division.’ The brother adds, ‘We know all divisions between God’s people are of the devil.’

“Surely so. Now we wish to say that every preacher or professed Christian that takes a stand against God, or is becoming so in pursuing such a course. We have never known that course to fail to rob the soul of the real Spirit of God. And as sure as division is of the devil, and the word of God says, ‘There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Gal. 3:28, so sure this contention against females acting in these callings when chosen thereto of God, is of the devil.

“The superstitious notion arises from the fact that ‘a man’ is always spoken of as ‘desiring the office of bishop.’ etc. But the same erroneous notion would exclude a woman from being born of God. ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom.’

“Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit’ etc. Nothing is said of women. They are therefore, it might be ignorantly contended, excluded from salvation.

An elder is to be the ‘husband of one wife,’ therefore, it is the thought, a woman must not be ordained. But it is also written that a deacon is to be the husband of one wife. And the same apostle who said so, commended Phoebe as a servant--Diakonon, deaconess--of the church at Cenchrea. Rom. 16:1.

He did not therefore mean to exclude women from either the calling of elder or deacon, no more than Christ did from the new birth. In the name of Jesus, we say to all who have been contending in this matter to repent, and pray God to forgive you, and hereafter let God use whom he will, and that is neither male nor female.”

Thus saith the early written tradition of the Church of God (fwiw) … Anchored on that authentic authority recovered from our early beginnings, let contemporary church and pulpit committees herewith open pulpit arms widely to include “your sons and your daughters [who] shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even upon my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of my spirit and they shall prophesy. . .” (Acts 2:16-21, NASV).

From Warner’s World,
let the Word of the Lord go forth …