Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iran Votes to Boost President’s Power

Iranian voters have bolstered President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's power by continuing to support the dominance of Islamic conservatives in parliament.

Related article:
">'Death to Ahmadinejad,' Iranian crowds cry (link to article)

TEHRAN, March 19 (UPI) -- Many Iranian youths rallied in streets across the country, shouting "Death to Ahmadinejad," in celebrations marking the end of the Persian calendar year.

The last Wednesday of the Persian calendar is celebrated as the Fire Festival in Iran, with bonfires and firecrackers marking the occasion.

In the western city of Ahvaz, angry mobs declared "Freedom is our legitimate right" while demonstrators in the western city of Sanandaj shouted "Death to (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad," Ynetnews reported Wednesday.

The police in Tehran were out in force and, though they were met with a barrage of firecrackers, the situation didn't escalate beyond what is typical for the Fire Festival, local reports cited in the news report said.

Ahmed Raza-Radan, the police chief in Tehran, warned demonstrators against violating the rule of law in a news conference.

"The police force has resolved to detain any party-goers who break the law. The secret police will have full control, and will not hesitate to photograph citizens for evidence," he said.

Once a mistake, twice a rank idiot

Dr. Jeremiah Wright told us a year ago who shaped his worldview and his theology. If any of the “news people” had bothered to simply check out who Dr. Wright named there would be no ‘real shock’ at the rhetoric of Dr. Wright. Mind you, “no shock” does not equal agreement with a statement, rather it means you understand a state of an existence of a theology being taught in our seminaries and in some churches.

Lets do for ourselves what the paid MSM failed to do. James H. Cone, is a Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. First, Union Theological is not some backwater , obscure institution, but rather has been in existence since 1836. But many are not quite aware of the fact they proudly state:

“Our ecumenical, interfaith commitment grows and strengthens through programs of exchange with churches and seminaries throughout the world. Informed by the insights of liberation theologians, the Seminary embraces and addresses the richness and realities of religious pluralism. “

If people grasped religious pluralism then Wrights rhetoric would be no surprise.James Cone has been featured in PBS’s This Far by Faith Series


It was the voice of Malcolm X that first made James Cone question his theology. Malcolm X proclaimed loudly that “Christianity is a white man’s religion,” and said that blacks should adopt an understanding of God that grew out of their own history and experience. He railed against a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus and a belief in the delayed rewards of heaven.

Still, Cone, then on the faculty of Adrian College in Michigan, continued to believe in the nonviolent, Christian love of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was the northern riots and Stokely Carmichael’s call for “Black Power!” during the Meredith March in Mississippi that led him to a crisis in faith.


“For me, the burning theological question was, how can I reconcile Christianity and Black Power, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea of nonviolence, and Malcolm X’s ‘by any means necessary philosophy?’” (Preface to Black Theology and Black Power, p. viii.)

Christianity, as he understood it, no longer explained or held meaning in the turbulent years of the late 1960s. “I was within inches of leaving the Christian faith.” If he were to remain a Christian, Cone would have to reinterpret his faith to respond to such demanding times.

Not exactly what most of us would find to be common in church on Sunday Morning, but how can the informed Christian be ignorant of the existence of this? Corruption of the seminary has ahistorically been the beginning of the theological shifts in denominations to a more liberal stance.

It would be good to note, both Dr. Wright and James Cone comes from the generation prior to the American Civil Rights Movement and their experiences shaped a worldview of resentment towards the treatment blacks had received in that area. That their rhetoric reflects that should no more surprise us then the rhetoric of the colonial pastors inspired the American Revolution.

Dr. Wright also mentions , Dr. Dwight N. Hopkins, whose works include: Being Human: Race, Culture, and Religion; Walk Together Children: black and womanist theologies, church and theological education; Another World Is Possible: Spiritualities and Religions of Global Darker Peoples; Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic (coeditor); Heart and Head: Black Theology-Past, Present, and Future; Introducing Black Theology of Liberation; Down, Up and Over: Slave Religion and Black Theology; and Black Faith and Public Talk: Essays in Honor of James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power (editor). His previous texts include Black Theology USA and South Africa: Politics, Culture, and Liberation; Shoes That Fit Our Feet: Sources for a Constructive Black Theology; and We Are One Voice: Essays on Black Theology in South Africa and the USA (coeditor). He is an editor of Religions/Globalizations: Theories and Cases; Changing Conversations: Religious Reflection and Cultural Analysis; and Liberation Theologies, Postmodernity and the Americas.

Dr. Hopkins is a Professor of Theology in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. This school is well known and respected for it’s scholarship in the study of religion and religious tradition.

Chicago reflects only one orthodoxy: that the rules of evidence and argument must discipline conversation, and that such rules are especially important when the topic is religion. Our faculty and students present a remarkable range of attitudes about religion as a force for good and for ill in the world. These attitudes bespeak the shared view that religion is one of our most fascinating and enduring windows into central truths about human life and being. The School aims to develop out of that conviction the richest possible conversation, and direct it to the central, complementary ends of scholarly excellence and moral engagement.

Dr. Hopkins is more of an academic than James Cone, but whose worldview is certainly shaped by the James Cones and the Jeremiah Wrights he grew up under. Dr. Hopkins , an American Baptist minister believes,

The descendants of American slaves are due reparations. Their foremothers suffered oppression because of the slaveholding structure of American society, and they suffered injustice at the hands of individual Americans, both those who owned them and those who acted like they owned them. White Americans forced these women to work as house and field laborers, and white American men treated these women as objects, not humans, when they raped them. The ancestors of today’s Americans even suffered the additional outrage of rape as a form of profit maximization: If an enslaved woman gave birth, her child would increase her owner’s wealth and provide him with yet more free labor. The psychological damage that these women and their families suffered is incalculable. Yet enslaved American black women did not retreat into passivity. They forged a theological understanding of their relationship with a God who would one day pass judgment on the slaveholders and compensate the enslaved-In Heaven and on Earth. What we need now is a discussion of how we can best compensate the descendants of these women and thus strengthen our society today.

None of this is secretive information, but rather readily available in a google search, yet people are “shocked”. Some will even say, well that is racist and I won’t even acknowledge racism . That is like not talking about sex,

STD’s , drugs or alcohol with our children will make it go away. It has the same effect, you leave people unprepared. And “shoocked” it even exists, instead of armed and prepared.

In all probablity this type of theology and the black experience had more effect on shaping Michelle’s worldview than it did Barack’s. This is reflected in her Princeton thesis which you can read here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Barack on the other hand was raised in a mixed cultural environment that was not walled in by the black experience (which why many claim he is not black enough). He was taught Islam, but from a political more than a religious standpoint in his home in Indonesia as a child. But Barack has more of a antropological view and reaction to society than his wife Michelle does.

I am much less concerned about Dr. Wright’s view than most, it is what it is. I tend to believe the social political aspect of Trinity UC church is part of the political reality of a Chicago politician more than a true indicator of Barack Obama’s belief system. I believe even though Dr. Wright had a lot of influence on Barack and is loved and respected by Barack as a fatherly type figure, he is intelligent enough to hold Wright’s radical (to us) views in tension and keep them in perspective.

Why? Because of his mother. HIs mother and his grandmother and his wife are powerful influences in his life. But not so much that he married a white woman. He married a true black woman-nobody will ever question if Michelle is black enough. Barack loves and respects her and she runs the house.Never underestimate the influence of a wife who b-slaps her husband in public. Early in Obama’s campaign, Michelle Obama could not restrain herself from belittling the senator.

”I have some difficulty reconciling the two images I have of Barack Obama. There’s Barack Obama the phenomenon. He’s an amazing orator, Harvard Law Review, or whatever it was, law professor, best-selling author, Grammy winner. Pretty amazing, right? And then there’s the Barack Obama that lives with me in my house, and that guy’s a little less impressive,” she told a fundraiser in February 2007.

“For some reason this guy still can’t manage to put the butter up when he makes toast, secure the bread so that it doesn’t get stale, and his five-year-old is still better at making the bed than he is.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported at the time, “She added that the TV version of Barack Obama sounded really interesting and that she’d like to meet him sometime.” Her handlers have convinced her to be more tactful since then.

Michelle Obama speaks with great warmth of her mother-in-law . “She was kind of a dreamer, his mother,” Michelle Obama was quoted in the January 25 Boston Globe. “She wanted the world to be open to her and her children. And as a result of her naivete, sometimes they lived on food stamps, because sometimes dreams don’t pay the rent. But as a result of her naivete, Barack got to see the world like most of us don’t in this country.” How strong the ideological motivation must be of a mother to raise her children on the thin fair in pursuit of a political agenda.

I think time has come to put this whole Trinity church affair in perspective and realize it is what it is. However, lets learn the lesson from it. Let’s not wake up a year from now and realize someone told us something and we missed it.Words have meanings and do not trust the Sean Hannity’s and the Fox’s and the CNN’s to do their research, do your own.

I would be much more concerned about the effect Michelles worldview has on Obama than Jeremiah’s.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The ignorance of arrogance comes with a price

How can the news media look into the camera with a straight face and act shocked by Dr. Jeremiah Wright? If anyone should be the source of controversy, it should be Fox News and Sean Hannity. This is the story behind the story in this "news event". Let's go back to Friday night the 14th of March.

With all the drum beats of the videotape of Dr. Wrights sermons, and then Sean Hannity turns up the shrill that if this is all true then Senator Obama needs to withdraw from the race and resign his seat in Congress.. I thought to myself they must be onto something really hot for Hannity to look like George Bush was just elected for a third term and picked Mitt Romney for his running mate. But the truth of the matter is, Sean Hannity and Fox News had this story a year ago and were either too ignorant or too arrogant to even realize it. I realize that is quite a statement to make, but it is well founded folks. They just failed to listen and to be able to discern what they were being plainly told.

Sean announced as they came on air that they are going to be interviewing Senator Obama on their program on Friday evening so I watched their show to see that interview. While I am waiting to hear the interview (actually done by Major Garrett) Sean starts bragging that he had interviewed Obama's pastor a year ago and they were going to play it in full. As I sat there and watched the interview my jaw dropped in disbelief. No, not at Dr. Wrights answers but at Sean Hannity's incompetence as a investigative journalist. Dr. Wright was telling him a year ago what he is just now understanding and Sean was too busy wanting to one up him to get the real story, that Dr. Wright was trying to give him! Sean was too busy telling him he studied theology to even grasp it and Dr. Wright was even telling him what theologians world view shaped his. But due to either arrogance or ignorance (or both) everyone missed the story.

Ok, Sean Hannity is not the best investigative journalist, that isn't breaking news. But what about the entire staff at Fox or CNN, NBC,ABC, CBS or MSNBC for that matter? After I saw this I emailed "my group" and tagged Fox as being "Hillary's do-boys" and not realizing it. (Mc Cain endorsers worldviews were also being compared in argument that night but not a word about Hillary's and I started to laugh thinking, Hillary's team actually listened to that interview a year ago and compiled this for the right time -purely my speculation-educated guess)

On March 6, I posted "How can you cure what you don’t understand?" (link) referencing the false claim of Senator Obama being a Muslim, and examining his judgement on issues. I also asked readers to examine the doctrines of his church. While it seemed to be liberation theology, it did not appear to be the classic liberation theology I was familiar with so I made reference to the social gospel and compared their doctrines to biblical doctrine, and left the reader to draw their own conclusion. Again, once I saw the interview from a year ago, I understood it was indeed liberation theology and that most people don't understand it.

Today, while reading Asia Times Online,I saw Spengler had run a column on "The peculiar theology of black liberation".

Spengler, in his own style and worldview,explains black liberation theology. In the event you are not familiar with it nuances, and are trying to reconcile it with your own Christian beliefs I have included excerpted pieces of the article below:

" Senator Barack Obama is not a Muslim, contrary to invidious rumors. But he belongs to a Christian church whose doctrine casts Jesus Christ as a "black messiah" and blacks as "the chosen people". At best, this is a radically different kind of Christianity than most Americans acknowledge; at worst it is an ethnocentric heresy.

What played out last week on America's television screens was a clash of two irreconcilable cultures, the posture of "black liberation theology" and the mainstream American understanding of Christianity. Obama, who presented himself as a unifying figure, now seems rather the living embodiment of the clash."

He references the interview that Hannity was bragging about and I referenced:

Wright asserted the authority of the "black liberation" theologians James Cone and Dwight Hopkins:

Wright: How many of Cone's books have you read? How many of Cone's book have you read?

Sean Hannity: Reverend, Reverend?


Wright: How many books of Cone's have you head?

Hannity: I'm going to ask you this question ...

Wright: How many books of Dwight Hopkins have you read?

Hannity: You're very angry and defensive. I'm just trying to ask a question here.

Wright: You haven't answered - you haven't answered my question.

Hopkins is a full professor at the University of Chicago's Divinity School; Cone is now distinguished professor at New York's Union Theological Seminary. They promote a "black power" reading of Christianity, to which liberal academic establishment condescends.

Obama referred to this when he asserted in a March 14 statement, "I knew Reverend Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago." But the fact the liberal academy condescends to sponsor black liberation theology does not make it less peculiar to mainstream American Christians. "

Spengler further notes, (and please note when he says black theology he means black liberation theology)

During the black-power heyday of the late 1960s, after the murder of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, the mentors of Wright decided that blacks were the Chosen People. James Cone, the most prominent theologian in the "black liberation" school, teaches that Jesus Christ himself is black. As he explains:

Christ is black therefore not because of some cultural or psychological need of black people, but because and only because Christ really enters into our world where the poor were despised and the black are, disclosing that he is with them enduring humiliation and pain and transforming oppressed slaves into liberating servants.

Biblical theology teaches that even the most terrible events to befall Israel, such as the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, embody the workings of divine justice, even if humankind cannot see God's purpose. James Cone sees the matter very differently. Either God must do what we want him to do, or we must reject him, Cone maintains:

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community ... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love. [1]

In the black liberation theology taught by Wright, Cone and Hopkins, Jesus Christ is not for all men, but only for the oppressed:

In the New Testament, Jesus is not for all, but for the oppressed, the poor and unwanted of society, and against oppressors ... Either God is for black people in their fight for liberation and against the white oppressors, or he is not [Cone].

That is the "biblical scholarship" to which Obama referred in his March 14 defense of Wright and his academic prominence. In his response to Hannity, Wright genuinely seemed to believe that the authority of Cone and Hopkins, who now hold important posts at liberal theological seminaries, was sufficient to make the issue go away. His faith in the white establishment is touching; he honestly cannot understand why the white reporters at Fox News are bothering him when the University of Chicago and the Union Theological Seminary have put their stamp of approval on black liberation theology.

Whether Obama takes seriously the doctrines that Wright preaches is another matter. It is possible that Obama does not believe a word of what Wright, Cone and Hopkins teach. Perhaps he merely used the Trinity United Church of Christ as a political stepping-stone. African-American political life is centered around churches, and his election to the Illinois State Senate with the support of Chicago's black political machine required church membership. Trinity United happens to be Chicago's largest and most politically active black church.

Obama views Wright rather at arm's length: as the New York Times reported on April 30, 2007:

Reverend Wright is a child of the 60s, and he often expresses himself in that language of concern with institutional racism and the struggles the African-American community has gone through," Mr Obama said. "He analyzes public events in the context of race. I tend to look at them through the context of social justice and inequality.

Obama holds his own views close. But it seems unlikely that he would identify with the ideological fits of the black-power movement of the 1960s. Obama does not come to the matter with the perspective of an American black, but of the child of a left-wing anthropologist raised in the Third World."

1. See William R Jones, "Divine Racism: The Unacknowledged Threshold Issue for Black Theology", in African-American Religious Thought: An Anthology, ed Cornel West and Eddie Glaube (Westminster John Knox Press).

Again, my inclination is that Senator Obama does not really hold to the same doctrine of Dr. Wright but to watch him squirm in that interview and carefully parse his words, makes me leery. Why? I served with people in churches who never wanted to offend anyone, by using a pluralistic formula of agreeing with everyone. In the end you not only offend more people but become known as standing for nothing. I managed businesses where people were afraid to make a decision and run with it for fear it is wrong or would hurt someones feelings. They never see their failure to take a position is in itself a position and makes one question their judgement.

In conclusion, the MSM, Fox News really blew this story a year ago. Now we will have a examination of ministers and what they believe and have to hear denials in which I have no interest and is a distraction. I believe this may have ended any chance of a VP position for Mitt Romney as well-if you can't live with liberation theology, KOBOL, and Mormon doctrine may be too much as well. Ironic as it may be, I thought the press pushed a separation of church and state and we were for the right to believe what we wish, rather than bring our pastor to be interviewed.

Spengler concluded, with what well may be the question of the convention:

"It is possible that because of the Wright affair Obama will suffer for what he pretended to be, rather than for what he really is."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Democratic Mulligans?

Anyone who has played golf has probably been given a "mulligan" when they are learning to play the game. According to Wikipedia ,

“The term ("mulligan") has found a broader acceptance in both general speech and other games, meaning any minor blunder which is allowed to pass unnoticed or without consequence. In both senses, it is implied that a mulligan is forgiven because it was either made by a rank beginner, or it is unusual and not indicative of the level of play or conduct expected of the person who made the mulligan.

Often though in the realm of a fantasy sport, especially baseball, certain team owners who drop a player only to regret it several hours later, call on their respective commissioners to Undo or grant a mulligan in order to reverse the transaction, even though the player is in the waiver pool. While mulligans are typically reserved to the sound discretion of the league commissioner, they should be used extremely sparingly and only in such instances of legitimate human error, rather than in cases of mistake resulting from carelessness, laziness, or inexcusable neglect.”

During the presidential campaigns we get insight into people’s judgment and the decisions they make and relate that to how their forecasting and political acumen is.

Recently, Hillary Clinton ran the 3.a.m. ad incinuating that in her mind she is most qualified to handle a national emergency. However, it appears most Americans want John Mc Cain to answer that call and the child in the ad want Barack Obama to. But this has been indicative of the poorly planned presidential campaign she has run to date, bringing into question ‘ready on day one’

In contrast, John Mc Cain went out on the limb to call for a troop surge which was a make or break political move. It worked. If it had not it is unlikely he would be the gop candidate this fall.The reason why we examine people so closely for POTUS is because we try to guess how they will fulfill their duty as President and the judgment they will use.

We could not be more fortunate to see how seriously the democratic candidates take the rule of law and their personal integrity. The stands that both Senators Clinton and Obama take on the Florida and Michigan delegation will give us a clear chance to see how they view the role of law enforcer.

The POTUS is in charge of the executive branch of federal governmentwhose job is to enforce the law of the United States. Both Florida and Michigan were told by the DNC before hand if they moved up their primary dates, they would not have their delegations seated, disenfranchising their voters. But both Florida and Michigan made “in your face” decisions to the DNC and held their primaries to make a statement.

On Hundred Sixty years ago, Henry David Thoreau gave his Concord Lyceum speech “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government”. He recognized then as people since then have realized, there is a price attached to the privledge of civil disobedience.

Two states who felt that it was wrong that the little states of Iowa and New Hampshire were the “kingmakers”, took a noble stand to protest by moving their primary up before Super Tuesday after fully understanding it would cost them their delegates.

The candidates did not campaign in their state in acknowledgement of this and Senator Obama withdrew his name from the Michigan ballot. Now the ramifications of not having a delegation seated are being realized and the candidates, specifically Senator Clinton, now doesn’t want the voters disenfranchised. Of course, it is to Mrs. Clinton’s political advantage to have those delegates counted. They also warn that there could be ramifications on the democratic candidate in Novbember if these two large states are not given a voice.

Florida and Michigan chose to exercise their voice that they objected to the primary system and wanted it changed and voted knowing their delegation would not be seated. We will get a chance to see just how presidential the candidates are when it comes to demanding the rules be enforced. Will one? Will both? Will neither?

It will be ironic to see Al Sharpton in federal court fighting a seating of the January delegations. Will either of the candidates have the political courage to join him as a co-plaintiff?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Christians divorce rate higher than non-Christians

Last week I got an email with what I thought was a “re-hashing” of a much criticized Barna Poll, so I didn’t pay much heed to it. But before I deleted it, I went back and checked the link .

Christians are known for being critical of others, but yet “nodding and winking” at each others faults. The think many don’t understand, is everyone sees the “nod and wink” and it overpowers the message they have been commissioned to give.

Here is what Barna found and Amy Kregers questions (click here)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

MInd your own business

As Christians, we really need to keep elections in perspective. We need to be the voice of reason, the city on the hill, the calm in the storm that people look to because we are unshaken by political events.

As much scrutiny as goes into what this politician will do and that politician will do, many time it is all smoke and mirrors and for your entertainment value.

Air Force Deal with Airbus Enrages Congress

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are furious over the U.S. Air Force’s decision to buy French-built Airbus air tankers. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Congress can’t do much about the deal with EADS-Northrop

Air Force explaining tanker decision to Boeing tomorrow
The Associated Press2008-03-06
WASHINGTON -The Air Force will brief Boeing tomorrow on the decision to spend $35 billion for air tankers using Airbus planes.

Congressman Norm Dicks accuses the Air Force of “bait and switch” by indicating it wanted a tanker the size of Boeing’s 767 then choosing a larger Airbus model

The Air Force says the Airbus-Northrop Grumman plane is the better all-around performer. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands behind the decision.

The head of Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems unit, Jim Albaugh, says Boeing offered its 767 because the company thought that plane offered the size and flexibility the Air Force wanted. He says Boeing was discouraged from offering a tanker based on the larger 777.
But he says Boeing will protest the decision only if it thinks there was an “irregularity” in the proposal phase.

This reminds me of that whole taxation without representation that we held a party over. So who does the citizen call in the Air Force to complain ? Today’s silence on government action is deafening. As long as we are silent they will do whatever they please. Forget representation, mind your own business , shut up and pay.

Land of the free and home of the brave. I barely recognize you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Amazing Jets

A flightdeck member passes in front of U.S. Navy F-14D Tomcat fighter jet, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier as sun rises in the Arabian Gulf. (AP photo)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Annie's fanny

Anne gets on the soapbox, we take a second look at John Mc Cain.