Resigned to Resolve

Resigned to Resolve
Vol: 39 Issue: 31 Friday, December 31, 2004

Resigned to Resolve

At this time of year, it is traditional in our culture to make New Year’s ‘resolutions’ — solemn promises to ourselves relating to self-improvement for the new year.

People are swearing off fatty foods, promising themselves that this will be the year that they quit smoking, or solemnly affirming to buy [or use] a gym membership to work off a few pounds and maybe lower their cholesterol.

So, at the stroke of midnight, many of us are going to make New Year’s resolutions. We are going to promise ourselves that things will be better in 2005 than they were in 2004. And then, most of us will fail like a one-armed man in a juggling contest.

We usually fail in our resolutions because we set our sights too high. Every New Year’s Eve we resolve to abandon ALL our bad habits, and by January 2nd, we start paring down the list.

Instead of resolving to lose fifty pounds, we decide that a more realistic goal would be to promise NOT to gain another twenty over the course of the New Year.

Instead of resolving to work out at the gym every other day for the whole year, we promise to drive by the gym more often.

Instead of quitting smoking, we resolve to smoke less than a pack a day.

Or we promise this year not to argue with our spouse. By January 2nd, that resolution is diluted to read more like; “I’m going to be nice about it when I tell them how wrong they are.”

I had a friend who resolved to give up beer at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. (He rewarded himself on January 2nd with a beer)

Some New Year’s resolutions are about us, but the most interesting resolutions are the ones we make for other people. (“I’m going to quit smoking — and so are you!”)

Those are the easiest ones to fail without feeling like a failure. You just hide a pack of cigarettes where your spouse can find them and wait. (Then you can feel good about yourself because you sneaked a smoke forty seconds after midnight.)

Making resolutions for the New Year can be revealing, but what they reveal about us to ourselves is something we knew all along but refuse to admit, even though we prove it, year after year. We can’t keep them.

According to Rachael Crofts, writing in the Scotsman, nine million adults in the UK will make New Year’s resolutions. And fifty-four percent of them will be the same resolutions they made last year.

One in three of THOSE will have lost their resolve during the first week of 2005.

I have my own list of New Year’s resolutions for 2005.

I resolve:

1) To answer more of my emails. (I resolved that last year, too)

2) To be a better husband and father. (Another repeat)

3) To give up some of my less healthful practices. (This one is another annual favorite)

4) To exercise more. (LOL)

5) To listen more than I talk. ( ROFLOL)

6) To spend less than I earn. (I am resolving THAT one for Gayle — I really NEEDED a pool table)

7) To get up earlier and eat breakfast.

8) To be kinder to useful idiots who email me to tell me that George Bush is the antichrist and that America is the Great Satan.

9) To read all the way through emails from the useful idiots (see 8) BEFORE telling them that they are idiots.

10) To look at this list again after January 1, 2005

I have one more resolution — one that I just might be able to keep.

Barring some cataclysmic event taking place in the next twenty-four hours that demands attention, I resolve to take this New Year’s Day off in order to give my full attention to the New Year’s resolutions that I intend to break.

[I am already pretty sure that #7 will be a goner before lunchtime tomorrow. I’ll have #4 dispatched by suppertime]

Gayle and I send all our love and our prayers for all of you. May our Lord bless each of you with a happy, safe and prosperous 2005.

And may THIS be the Year of the Trumpet.

Happy New Year!

It’s All In How You Play the Game . . .

It’s All In How You Play the Game . . .
Vol: 39 Issue: 30 Thursday, December 30, 2004

For Christmas this year, I got a pool table. It wasn’t the expensive slate-top kind, but it plays as nicely as if it were.

Instead of slate, my table bed is a cheaper, but excellent man-made material called Slatron. The only difference I noticed is that when the ball rolls across the Slatron bed, it sounds a bit like a ball rolling down the lane in a bowling alley.

The table came from Sears, and we set it up in an unused corner of the garage. (Actually, that is where my car used to live, but there was room for either a car or a pool table — and the car wouldn’t get soggy if it rained)

I love pool. I started to play when I was in the Marine Corps. At first, I didn’t much care for it, but, who wants to be the ONLY guy in the barracks who doesn’t like to shoot pool?

We had a pool table in our barracks’ communal room and I used to stay up into the wee hours of the morning practicing, until the duty NCO would kick me out for making too much noise.

By the time I got out of the Corps, I thought I was pretty good, and I’ve played pool whenever I got a chance since.

I love pool because you aren’t playing your opponent so much as you are playing yourself. It doesn’t make much difference to me whether I win or lose; in pool, it truly is how one plays the game that counts. Every game is a learning experience, and pool is the only game I know that is as much fun to play alone as it is to play an opponent.

Nothing is as relaxing as a game of pool. It is like a hot bath with Epsom salts for the mind. My pool table came with a book of instructions written by pool legend Steve Mizerak. It has a number of tips, but the most important one is this one: “When you are taking your shot, forget about everything else in the universe, except making that shot.”

Pool is a precise game — close doesn’t count. It is a game of strategy and planning. One doesn’t just shoot to pocket a ball — a good player will have his next four shots planned before he takes the one in front of him. In pool, pocketing a ball is only slightly more important than leaving the cue ball properly positioned for the next shot.

Sometimes, it is more important to miss a shot and leave the cue ball in a position where your opponent can’t make his than it is to pocket a ball yourself. If you do it right, you’ll get another shot.

Practice makes perfect and I practice whenever I get a chance. Practicing helps me to perfect my technique, and missing a shot teaches me what NOT to do as much as it teaches me what I should be doing.

Assessment:

In many ways, to me, shooting pool is a metaphor for life. Even if you miss the mark, there are second chances as long as the game is alive. And every shot you take affects the way your opponent plays his game. A single shot can change the layout of the table completely and undo all your opponent’s careful planning. Or it can undo all of yours.

Pool teaches you patience. If you miss a shot, you just remind yourself that if you made every shot you were aiming at, nobody else would play pool with you. Everybody misses, even the great ones. It happens when you remember something else in the universe except that shot. That tiny distraction is all it takes to turn your best-laid plans into a victory for your opponent.

Pool is something of a metaphor for our relationship with God, as well.

At first you aren’t very good at it, but as time goes on, you get better at it, get a bit more confidence, and after awhile, you understand that EVERYBODY misses sometimes. When you miss, you take it in stride, learn from your mistakes, and try and do better with your next shot.

In pool, you aren’t judged a good player or a bad player based on one or two shots, you are judged by how consistently you win the game.

The Christian life is like that. Sometimes, we miss the mark, but God doesn’t judge our whole lives by a bad shot here and there.

EVERYBODY misses from time to time, but until our lives are over, the full measure of our game has not been taken. There is always another ‘shot’ until the 8 ball is pocketed. And as long as there is another shot, there is still a chance to win.

As Christians, it’s our job to win others to Christ. Sometimes, we make a ‘bad shot’ that changes the whole layout of the table. In our earnestness to personally lead somebody to Christ, we overdo it. We shoot too hard and miss. We get discouraged, and worry that we’ve done more harm than good.

In pool, pocketing the ball is only slightly more important than positioning the cue for the next shot. Sometimes, it isn’t our job to lead that person to Christ. Instead, we are just setting up cue ball for the next guy. We are just planting the seed. The Holy Spirit will water that seed, but sometimes, He gives the job of harvesting to somebody else.

The point is, once you’ve planted that seed, there is always another shot, that lost person still has a chance to win, as long as the game is alive.

But to win, you have to play.

“The Sea and The Waves Roaring”

“The Sea and The Waves Roaring”
Vol: 39 Issue: 29 Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It is utterly unthinkable: The death toll figures continue to rise even as I type these words — at the moment, it is somewhere between sixty and seventy THOUSAND people.

That is more than the entire US death toll in the ten-year Vietnam War. Fully a third of the dead were children swept out to sea by the tsunami that destroyed coastlines as far as six thousand miles away from the earthquake’s epicenter.

The carnage defies the imagination. In one particular tragedy, a train was swept from its tracks, taking a thousand lives in a single stroke.

Among the hardest-hit was the island nation of Sri Lanka, where more than 21,700 dead were reported so far. Interestingly, wildlife enthusiasts in Sri Lanka report no dead animals. They theorize that animals sensed the approaching killer wave and took to the high ground before the wave hit.

Indonesian Vice President Yusuf Kalla estimated that as many as forty thousand people may have died on the island of Sumatra alone. Sumatra was near the epicenter of the 9.1 undersea quake that spawned the tsunami. The entire island was relocated 100 feet southwest of its original location. The quake was so powerful that it disturbed the rotation of the earth, causing time to stand still for three microseconds.

Estimates of the final death toll could top one hundred thousand people, and World Health officials say that disease could double even that horrifying figure.

Major countries have begun sending relief to the affected areas, with the United States committing to an initial thirty-five million dollars, an amount that UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland called ‘stingy’.

Perhaps Egeland should pass the hat among his UN cronies — even a small percentage of what they stole from the Iraqis would go a long way.

For the record, the United States’ aid commitment was, as is typical, the biggest. Japan came in second, pledging some thirty million. The European Union is donating thirty million.

French aid was also typical for that nation. One of the biggest recipients of stolen Oil-for-Food money, so far, France has pledged $139,00.00 — about two dollars per victim.

As an aside, WorldNet daily noted today that last year, an earthquake destroyed the Iranian city of Bam, killing 26,000. It struck on December 26, 2003 at 01:56 AM (UTC). The 9.1 quake that spawned the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004 at 00:58 AM — exactly one year and iffy-eight minutes later.

Assessment:

When Jesus was asked what signs would precede His coming for His Church, He gave a whole list of events, including earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences. Among the signs of His soon return were events that read like this week’s top headlines:

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

Three days before the quake struck, NASA issued a warning of a possible asteroid strike against the earth in April, 2029. The giant space rock, named 2004 MN4, was said on Dec. 23 to have an outside shot at hitting the planet on April 13, 2029. The odds climbed as high as 1-in-37, or 2.7 percent, on Monday, Dec. 27.

That prompted NASA to promote Asteroid 2004 MN4 to an unprecedented level on the Torino Scale, becoming the first ever to rate a rating of 4 on that scale.

According to NASA, Asteroid 2004 MN4, although relatively small, would be capable of creating a tsunami as powerful as the Asian killer wave, should it land in the ocean. If it were to hit the earth, it would detonate with the force of a nuclear explosion.

Today, NASA issued a new press release saying new calculations ruled out Asteroid 2005 MN4 as a threat, but NASA says that as a consequence of the near miss, it is expanding the scope of its search for Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

Although an asteroid capable of causing global damage hasn’t struck the earth in recorded human history, NASA is only one of hundreds of governmental and private organizations scanning the skies for the next Big One to slam into the planet and kick off a new Ice Age, or whatever.

The signs in the sun, moon and stars include the recent spate of unprecedented solar storms, an ever-increasing series of warnings of impending asteroid strikes and near misses, unusual space radiation patterns, and the recently announced threat of a reversal of the earth’s magnetic fields.

The tsunami that roared across the Asian coastline was spawned by the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded. Overall, since 1948, earthquake activity has been steadily increasing in both frequency and intensity.

After describing the signs in the sun, moon and stars, the roaring of the sea and the waves, and the distress and fear that will emanate from the shaking of the powers of heaven, Jesus said;

“And THEN shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:27-28)

Through the Looking Glass: The Middle East

Through the Looking Glass: The Middle East
Vol: 39 Issue: 28 Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sunday’s tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. The earthquake that set it off was so powerful that it actually repositioned the island of Sumatra by some 100 feet to the southwest.

The quake, and the massive shift in both the earth’s mass and the water covering it, actually interfered with the rotation of the earth on its axis, shortening the day by three microseconds.

The tsunami killed uncounted thousands in Asia and was so powerful that it killed hundreds of people in the African country of Somalia more than six thousand miles away from the epicenter.

So what does all this have to do with the reviewing the prophetic implications of the Year 2004 and the Middle East? It provides an excellent object lesson in perspective.

The news accounts are filled with eyewitness accounts of the world’s worst disaster; some from Thailand, others from Indonesia, others from Sri Lanka, etc. All describe the same event, but each account is different. The tsunami that killed an estimated 15,000 in Sri Lanka was the same tsunami that killed hundreds of Somalis half a world away.

And while each account contains the same facts; a rushing wall of water, massive flooding, people being washed out to sea, etc., the description of the event as seen from an eyewitness survivor in Thailand is considerably different than the eyewitness accounts offered by a person in Somalia.

An event that killed hundreds in Somalia would be described in different terms than an event that killed thousands in Thailand. But it would be the same event, described from different perspectives.

That is the key to understanding the signs of our times as outlined by the Lord in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21)

With that in mind, the Olivet Discourse opens with a question to Jesus;

“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)

Note the perspective. Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, answering a question put to him by His Jewish disciples. The ‘signs of the times’ outlined by Jesus for the last days were given from the perspective of a Jew from Jerusalem.

That perspective is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 24:9, where He warns, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake.”

Certainly that is true of the Church in many nations. But only the Jews are universally hated of all nations. Only the Jews have been systematically delivered up to be afflicted and killed, and the principle excuse offered is that the Jews killed Christ.

To fully understand the implications of current events as they relate to Bible prophecy, one must look at events from the perspective of Israel.

Anti-Semitism was codified as traditional ‘Euro-think’ following a January, 2004 poll timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz from the Nazis.

According to the poll, 46 percent of those interviewed feel Jews are “different,” and 71% of them urged Israel to withdraw from the territories. Nine percent of respondents do not “like or trust Jews,” and 15% would prefer that Israel not exist.

Forty-eight percent of Europeans polled in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and Britain said that Jews have “a particular relationship with money.”

In all the countries, anti-Semitic sentiment was positively correlated with anti-Israel sentiment. Among all the Europeans, the polls suggest that the most anti-Semitic nation is France.

The “new” anti-Semitism is considered to be so qualitatively different than the old that it needs a new name: Judeophobia. So argue two British editors in a recent collection entitled: “A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain.”

By this account, “Judeophobia might be regarded as referring to both the fear and dislike of Jews: just as xenophobia is used to refer to the fear and dislike of foreigners.”

In February, that anti-Semitism was further confirmed when the World Court concluded Israel violated international law by building a security fence to keep Palestinian terrorists out.

As we asked in February, 2004, “Why DOES the world hate the Jews? Why IS there a WORD for it? Think about it. John Kerry hid the fact his father was a Jew until only recently. Could you tell? Now that you know, do you hate him for it? How does a guy go from being just a guy to being a ‘Jew’?”

There are people who do not WANT to recognize the existence of God, because they fear being accountable to Him. They are comfortable in their unbelief, prefer it that way. Paul described this mindset in Romans 1:28:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

As you see, some people do ‘not like to retain God in their knowledge’ — the Jew is a constant reminder of God. That was part of God’s plan for Israel in the last days — to remind a Christ rejecting world that He is still in charge.

“And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)

Israel and the EU are discussing ‘anti-Semitism’ which is a word especially reserved to describe hatred of Jews. That is the fulfillment of God’s promise.

“Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.” (Psalms 44:14)

Anti-Semitism is so much a part of global culture and thinking that more than half of all UN condemnatory resolutions in UN history have been passed against Israel — but nobody cries ‘foul’. Nobody demands an investigation. It is simply how things are — they’re Jews.

“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2)

The Palestinian Authority, which has proved itself time and again to be a terrorist organization on a par with al-Qaeda, enjoys global support, but only because it opposes Israel.

For four years, the Palestinian Authority promised peace but delivered war, and not once in the entire four year uprising (in which Israeli civilians were the principle targets) has the UN condemned the attackers. Just the victims.

From the perspective of Israel, the whole world DOES stand against them, as the ancient Bible prophets predicted.

Israel’s closest friend and ally, the United States, is actively campaigning to create the world’s first recognized terrorist state along Israel’s border.

Since the collapse of Oslo, the United States and European Community have launched various initiatives aimed at salvaging Oslo. Together with the UN and Russia, the so-called ‘Quartet’ agreed to the creation of a Palestinian State beside Israel, despite the PA’s history and Arafat’s leadership.

Now, let’s reexamine 2004 from Israel’s perspective. Jesus spoke of ‘wars and rumors of wars’ as one of the signs of His return.

No nation in history has spent more of its existence in a state of war than Israel. Technically, it has been at war since the day of its birth. It has fought five separate wars aimed at its annihilation.

Despite that, Israel has been the most benign of nations, wanting nothing more than to live in peace, while being blamed for every attack visited upon it.

When it comes to Israel, EVERYTHING is through the looking glass.

Consider the following: During the entire period of the uprising, Israel has been under constant criticism for refusing to negotiate with Arafat because he was simultaneously conducting a war against them.

It was Israel’s fault, according to the UN and the EU.

But when Arafat finally died in November 2004, a ‘new wind of hope’ allegedly blew through the region because it meant the possibility of a less-militant leadership.

In the looking-glass year of 2004, Arafat was both a ‘martyr’ AND an obstacle to peace — but it remains, as 2004 draws to a close, ISRAEL that must make all the concessions FOR peace.

Arafat’s ‘funeral’ was one to befit an unrepentant terrorist. At one point, unable to remove his coffin from the helicopter because of the mob, the Palestinian ‘Authority’ simply backed an SUV through the crowd at high speed, running over any too slow to get out of the way.

It is these people that would make up the state that the world is forcing Israel to accept on its borders.

2004 was the year that the collective insanity where Israel is concerned infected the whole world.

The United States is currently conducting a global war against Islamic terror that threatens its very existence. The Bush Doctrine declares any state that sponsors terrorism to be an enemy state subject to preemptive attack.

But in 2004, President Bush formally called for the creation of a Palestinian state and recognized the right of a terrorist organization as its legal representative.

The administration is endorsing an election in which recognized terrorist organizations, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades are all running candidates.

The Olivet Discourse was delivered from the perspective of Israel AS it prepares to enter into the Tribulation Period.

Speaking of the wars and rumors of wars, Jesus said, “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. . . ” (Matthew 24:6)

Among the newest threats facing the Jewish state is the prospect of a nuclear Iran, thanks to the IAEA’s decision not to refer the matter to the Security Council in November after the EU struck a transparently false 11th hour deal with Tehran.

The Iran threat comes as Israel witnesses the war ongoing in Iraq, braces for its possible escalation into Syria, and watches as a new terrorist state is being assembled on its doorstep.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (24:7,8)

Viewed from the perspective of one seated upon the Mount of Olives, that pretty much reads like an Israeli Year in Review, 2004, from the ethnic conflicts raging all around them to this week’s catastrophe sparked by an earthquake so powerful it affected the rotation of the earth.

According to Jesus, the ‘sorrows’ come next.

Assessment:

It is difficult to encapsulate so much into so few words; I know there is much I haven’t touched on, but the objective is to examine the events of the past year in the light of Bible prophecy and see if we can get some idea about where things lie.

The Olivet Discourse is the best general guide we have — provided we read it in perspective.

The Church witnesses much of the first part of it, but the Rapture takes place at some point before the events beginning with 24:9;

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake.”

2004 provided a glimpse at shadows of what is to come during the Tribulation. According to Jesus, the actual Tribulation will be, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (v.21)

We are not in it yet. But in 2004, we could see it coming more clearly than at any time before.

In 2004, the European Union launched an effort to expand itself into the Middle East, and provisionally accepted Israel as a member of its new Mediterranean Neighborhood Policy.

That sets the stage for the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that the seven year peace covenant between Israel and her enemies will be under a European leader.

America’s war on Islamist terror has devalued the US as a viable peace broker between Israel and the Arab world, while the Euromed policy has put Europe in a much better position to pick up the pieces.

In 2005, it is no stretch to imagine our influence with Israel taking a nose dive as the administration continues to push for a Palestinian state without the security guarantees that only the Europeans are in a position to make.

2005 portends the existence of a Palestinian state, a nuclear-armed Iran, a waning of US influence in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the prospect of an ever-widening war in the Middle East.

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)

Through The Looking Glass: Perilous Times

Through The Looking Glass: Perilous Times
Vol: 39 Issue: 27 Monday, December 27, 2004

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2nd Timothy 3:1-5

If the year 2004 is memorable for anything at all, it is for the perils that seemed to dog the world from all directions.

At the greatest peril in 2004 was the world’s Christian population in foreign lands.

The January 18, 2004 issue of the Omega Letter, entitled, “Making War on Jesus”, noted the murder of a Protestant pastor in Pakistan on January 5 and another pastor shot to death in Istanbul, Turkey, the following day.

In Iraq, more than 2000 Christians fled the Basra area to escape targeted bombings and murders aimed at Basra’s Christian community.

Eritrean police arrested and jailed another Protestant evangelical pastor, taking him and seven of his church members to prison. A second new arrest of 10 young women from various Pentecostal churches was confirmed later.

As of January 18, 2004, “six of the 62 young people locked into metal containers at Sawa this past summer for having Bibles are believed to still be jailed in underground isolation cells at this same camp.”

“Fourteen women soldiers, along with 63 men, are still being held at Assab, where authorities have used torture, isolation and cruel threats to try to force them to retract their evangelical beliefs.”

“According to lists compiled by local Protestants, currently at least 334 evangelical believers are imprisoned for their religious beliefs in nine known locations across Eritrea.”

“More than 10 Christian churches and a church-run vocational training center in and around the sprawling Wad el Bashier displaced persons camp in West Omdurman, Sudan, have been demolished by authorities there.”

For Christians, that is just the tip of the iceberg. That was just one report from one day last January. The unreported stories could fill an entire year’s worth of OL reports.

But it was for America that 2004’s times of peril reached epic proportions.

2004 marked the year that disloyalty and treason lost their stigma. The January 9th OL, entitled, “The Price of Loyalty” outlined the new trend of high-ranking presidential administration appointees like Paul O’Neill, who wrote a scathing ‘tell-all’ book skewering his former boss. So, too, did former Ambassador Joe Wilson.

(Both books were later proved to be filled with false accusations. Neither man was called to account. In 2004, it was ok to be a false accuser, as long as you were accusing George Bush.)

We also noted that O’Neill claimed on 60 Minutes that he “was going public because he thinks the Bush Administration has been too secretive about how decisions have been made”.

We observed last January that; “Going public” suggests O’Neill is a whistle-blower doing some kind of a public service. Since Saddam’s removal was mandated by federal law, and was already official US foreign policy, it is hard to see how attempting to further divide the country over Iraq is a public service. It’s an absurdity equivalent to a baseball team wanting to replace their team captain for hitting a home run against the other team.”

While Paul O’Neill was trashing the administration in the midst of an ongoing war, Sandy Berger was busy stealing documents from the National Archives to protect his old boss, Bill Clinton, from the 9/11 Commission investigating how the war started in the first place.

These were wartime documents relative to the war on terror — taking it out of the realm of politics and into the category of life or death — either for the enemy, or for us. But Bill Clinton called it a ‘non-story’. The New York Times ran it on page A-18. It quietly died away.

In February, in an OL commentary entitled; “The Death of Shame” we observed that;

“Something snapped in America — I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but it was somewhere towards the end of the Clinton administration. The 2000 Election was the earthquake that started several years before as tiny cracks when America decided to compromise on truth — as long as it paid off.”

The Apostle Paul noted that the generation of ‘perilous times’ would be ‘without natural affection’. One could argue that the gay marriage debate qualifies.

2004 was the Year of the Great Debate over gay marriage. The question, “Should marriage be exclusive to a man and a woman” was, to all previous generations in history, so absurd it was never asked before.

But in 2004, it became a topic of major debate. Defense of Marriage Acts were on the ballot in eleven states during Election 2004. All passed overwhelmingly, but the debate continues to rage.

Paul said ‘without NATURAL affection’. It is now against the law in my native Canada to call homosexual conduct ‘unnatural’ — and it is no defense to prosecution under Canada’s hate-speech laws that the ‘hate-speech’ in question demonstrably true. One says such things at their peril.

The cable news outlets were in a quandry about which court trials to cover in 2004. They were sensational because of the total lack of natural affection involved in the crimes:

There was Scott Peterson, who murdered his wife and full-term unborn child. Mark Hacking murdered his pregnant wife Lori and threw her body in a Salt Lake City dumpster. The most recent atrocity involved a young woman named Bobbie Jo Stinnet.

Stinnet was about to give birth when she was strangled to death and her baby cut alive from her womb. The murderer then attempted to pass off the baby as her own.

Paul spoke of ‘despisers of those that are good’. In 2004, the ACLU has just about suceeded the Boy Scouts of America as an organization. The ACLU went after the Boy Scouts for two reasons.

The first, which was finally struck down by the Supreme Court (during a rare moment of sanity) was a challenge to the Boy Scout policy of not allowing homosexual Scoutmasters. In another time, it would never have even been an issue. Neither would the second, and more effective, ACLU challenge.

The ACLU’s second line of attack was aimed at Scouting’s requirement that its members believe in God. Between the two, the ACLU has either scared parents into keeping their kids out of Scouting over the homosexual Scoutmaster issue, or has scared government officials into denying Scouts places in which to meet.

To get the ACLU off their backs, the Scouting movement would have to shed such things as heterosexual values and a belief in God, two things despised by both the ACLU and the activist courts.

Paul also spoke of ‘high-minded traitors’. The treasonous behavior of both the US political left and the left-leaning media is well documented throughout 2004. But, as previously noted, treason isn’t what it used to be.

In the globalist worldview of the politically correct, allegiance to one’s country is secondary to allegiance to the ‘community of nations’.

John Kerry articulated this worldview on the campaign trail when he argued that America’s right of self-defense should be placed in the hands of the United Nations Security Council.

Instead of seeing his candidacy vaporize before his eyes when he promised to surrender US sovereignty to the Islamic-dominated UN, Kerry went on to receive the greatest number of votes for a losing presidential candidate in history!

Talk about ‘perilous times’! 2004 was the year that fifty-five million Americans voted in favor of giving the UN veto power over US foreign policy!

The Apostle also noted that the last generation would be noteworthy for ‘having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof’.

One of the legacies of 2004 was the emergence of a place called ‘JesusLand’. Another was the consternation of the Democratic Party in having lost the support of America’s Christian voters.

In a commentary entitled “Faking God”, guest columnist Kathleen Parker noted, “Through their post-election soul-searching, Democratic leaders claim to have seen the light. The reason they lost – and the way to win – is God.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats have to start talking more openly about their faith. Sen. Hillary Clinton told a Tufts University audience that Democrats should use the Bible to advance their arguments about poverty the way Republicans did with gay marriage.

The Democrats resolved to develop their own form of godliness, one that is inclusive, but not too inclusive. There is room for gays, the ACLU, abortion rights and more religious talk. But not much room for traditional Christianity.

As Parker noted, “until the Democratic Party’s policy positions reflect beliefs consistent with the values held by American’s religious moderates and traditionalists, their newly fashioned messages are going to sound like what they are. Faked.”

“You can’t just suddenly start carrying around a Bible and expect to convince people you’re a believer. It is also dangerous to invoke the Bible if you’re not that familiar with it, as Howard Dean proved when he expressed his admiration for the book of Job, which he erroneously placed in the New Testament.”

“If you like Job, you know where it is.”

I called this series, “Through the Looking Glass” because it reminds me of the Lewis Carroll classic by the same name about Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

Everything was the opposite of what one would expect, but the only one who noticed the contradictions was Alice. To the denizens of Wonderland, smiling cats and talking rabbits were no less normal than the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts.

In 2004, there was an overwhelming sense that we were sliding down the hole behind the March Hare.

Michael Moore’s fake ‘documentary’ “Farhenheit 911” was widely acknowledged to be a complete tapestry of lies masquerading as a documentary. But it made more money than any other documentary film in history, and, although acknowledged as total fiction, is in the running for an Oscar for the year’s best documentary, anyway.

Up is down, black is white, truth is whatever fits the ethics of the moment, lies are really just ‘nuanced positions’ and being caught in a lie is only a bad thing if you are a member of a particular political persuasion.

The media spent four years trying to catch George Bush in a lie and, even with their maximum effort, still had to fabricate the evidence to support the charge.

John Kerry’s campaign was a litany of lies and false accusations for which he was never held accountable by the media. Fortunately, he WAS held to account by the voters)

When Kerry lost, it was because the Republicans ‘cheated’, prompting endless calls for pointless recalls in states where the disputed ballots wouldn’t have changed the election results anyway, even if they were all awarded to Kerry.

But as 2004 winds down to a close, America has grown so used to illusion over substance that most can’t even see the peril that lies before us.

Tomorrow:

Through the Looking Glass: Israel and the Middle East

Through the Looking Glass . . . Part One

Through the Looking Glass . . . Part One
Vol: 39 Issue: 26 Sunday, December 26, 2004

It’s that time of year again when everybody is writing their ‘year in review’ columns in which they highlight the events they think were the most important of the passing year.

But 2004 was one of those years that can’t be properly characterized in a single column, so I will spread it out over the next couple of days. 2004 was a year of pivotal events — political, economic, and military — that have added many new pieces to the Big Picture. It will take time to sort them all out.

On the political scene, the year opened with a brand-new star, the ‘unbeatable’ Dr. Howard Dean. Dean became the unbeatable new political genius of the Left after he figured out a way to tap into the Internet for campaign funding.

The political pundits were pronouncing Dean the new Democratic nominee for the White House, predicting Dean’s hard-left politics would help him sweep the primaries.

Although Dean’s politics were perfectly in line with the personal politics of the aforementioned pundits, they scared the pants off even Iowa Democratic voters, who gave the nod to John ‘Christmas in Cambodia’ Kerry.

Dean’s reaction to his Iowa loss, a primal scream that sounded like a pig being strangled, was immediately dubbed the ‘Dean Scream’ and Howard Dean packed his bags and headed home to Vermont.

2004 was also the year that the media took off the gloves and openly abandoned any pretense of political neutrality by launching a propaganda blitz that would have done justice to Leni Riefenstahl, (Hitler’s filmmaker and director of that smash hit from the 1930’s, “The Eternal Jew”).

The Big Three news networks squandered forty years of accumulated credibility in their effort to defeat George Bush, enthusiastically backing any candidate who wasn’t . . . well, ANY candidate who wasn t George Bush.

Even Al Sharpton got a free ride from a press corps that was clearly prepared to back ANYBODY who ran against George Bush, even a racist demagogue whose title of ‘Reverend’ was conferred upon him when he was nine years old.

An honest press corps would have had a field day with Reverend Al. He came to fame as Tawana Brawley’s ‘advisor’ in 1991. He made headlines when he accused NY prosecutor Steven Pagones and four police officers of kidnapping, abusing and raping a black 15 year old. One of the accused police officers eventually committed suicide.

A grand jury found there was no evidence to support the charge. The reason was because Brawley made it all up. Indeed, Pagones later won a $65,000 defamation judgment against Sharpton, (who promptly claimed he was bankrupt). Sharpton s income had to be garnished to cover part of the defamation debt and supporters helped pay the rest.

Sharpton was charged with stealing from a civil rights organization he started as a teenager. He pleaded guilty in 1993 to evading paying his 1986 state income taxes. Sharpton was even once secretly videotaped trying to sell a pound of cocaine to an undercover police officer.

None of that mattered to the political propagandists masquerading as mainstream journalists, some of whom even pronounced Sharpton the winner of several of the primary debates. After all, he may be Al Sharpton, but Al Sharpton isn’t George Bush.

Al Sharpton’s candidacy for the Presidency of the United States seemed to mark the pinnacle of 2004’s ‘Silly Season’ — a season that was easily among the silliest on record.

There were nine candidates running for the Democratic nomination and every single one of them ran on the same campaign slogan; “Vote for me! I’m not George Bush.”

Of course, the winner of the Democratic nod had to have more than that single qualification in order to beat out the other eight candidates. Enter John “I served in Vietnam and George Bush didn’t” Kerry.

That was the REAL pinnacle of the Silly Season. An anti-war candidate whose sole credential (apart from not being George Bush) was a four-month tour in Vietnam in which he racked up five medals that, upon his return to the States, publicly threw over the White House fence in protest.

He had testified before Congress in 1971 that all Vietnam veterans, (including him), were war criminals. Then he criticized George Bush’s National Guard service by claiming he joined the Guard to avoid Vietnam, essentially arguing that Bush’s failure to qualify as a war criminal also disqualified him from serving as Commander in Chief.

Or something. The media didn’t seem to grasp the circular nature of that argument, (or it believed that we didn’t.)

Although EVERY SINGLE officer in his chain of command signed on with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that claimed Kerry’s Vietnam war record was a sham, the media showed no interest in investigating whether or not a presidential candidate was a fraud campaigning on a self-serving lie.

The media never questioned the fact Kerry’s discharge was dated five years after he was released. (For a naval officer, the absence of an honorable discharge is the equivalent to a dishonorable one.)

It never questioned the ‘combat V’ on his Silver Star, even though there is no ‘combat V’ authorized for the Silver Star. It never questioned his three Purple Hearts or his Bronze Star, although 250 of the 261 Swift Boat veterans involved in the campaign claimed they were fraudulently obtained.

Even though Kerry built his entire campaign around those four months in Vietnam, the only time the media showed any interest in the Swift Boat veterans’ was when it found something negative to report about one of the members.

It never doubted that John Kerry ‘had a plan’ for extricating America from Iraq, saving the environment, plugging the ozone layer and presenting Osama bin Laden’s head on a platter.

(That is probably why nobody in the media ever asked Kerry what his plan actually WAS. It was enough to know that Kerry ‘had a plan’ the details were apparently irrelevant.)

On the other hand, there were about two hundred gazillion reporters assigned to dig up evidence that George Bush didn’t make a few of his National Guard meetings toward the end of his service.

All the Big Networks agreed that if George Bush missed a few National Guard meetings, THAT made him unfit for command and erased his four years of experience in the White House, (three of which were as a wartime Commander-in-Chief).

While ignoring two hundred and fifty actual combat veterans clamoring for media scrutiny of Kerry’s war record, CBS News assigned a producer who spent four years building a case against Bush’s Guard service. In the end, (after four years of investigation), CBS ran a story that was entirely based on the contents of four forged documents.

It cost CBS its credibility, it cost Dan Rather his anchor spot, and it may yet result in criminal charges, but the other two network anchors, Brokaw and Jennings, offered Dan Rather their full support and solidarity. After all, it was for a good cause.

The Silly Season capped in November, after the networks forecast a fifty-three state victory for John Kerry — when word leaked out that the actual, physical voters had elected George Bush.

The networks bemoaned the results when the Democrats lost seats in both Houses and John Kerry lost the White House. After careful examination, they concluded that the Democrats lost for two reasons:

John Kerry was boring. And the Red States are populated by redneck morons.

Political pundits the world over joined in a hearty ‘huzzah’ for the network’s findings, with a British paper going so far as to ask how fifty-six million Americans could be “so dumb.”

Assessment:

As 2004 draws to a close, it is worth noting that, apart from moving Dan Rather from anchoring the CBS News to anchoring at CBS’ “60 Minutes”, the mainstream media emerged largely unscathed — despite its exposure as a propaganda tool for the liberal Left.

Of course, the reason it emerged unscathed is because it is the liberal mainstream media that controls what we hear in the first place. If the mainstream media says it is unbiased and subsequently spikes any stories to the contrary, well, evidently, that means it is unbiased.

2004 proved to be the Year of the Propagandist, a year in which the mainstream media flexed its muscles and discovered that it not only felt good, but also that they could get away with it with impunity.

It was the year in which the media discovered another America, populated by the rednecks in the Red States, who were, in their view, too stupid to catch the nuances of their propaganda campaign, which is how and why George Bush was able to win reelection anyway. THAT America was derided by the liberal left as “JesusLand.”

It is not coincidental that 2004 was the Year of the Strong Delusion, politically. Practically every person on earth, (except citizens of JesusLand) has bought into the delusion that America is a global bully headed by a reactionary redneck who somehow manipulated the electorate in order to seize Iraqi oil wealth for distribution to his cronies in the oil business.

They believe it for two reasons. The first is that is the way America is portrayed by the liberal press who are unable or unwilling to differentiate between what is good for the country and what is good for their partisan political interests.

The second is because that is what they WANT to believe. They don’t WANT to believe that America has no interest in Iraq beyond bringing stability to the part of the world. They don’t want to believe that American soldiers are there to save Iraq from tyranny and terrorism.

If they believed THAT, then they’d have to question why they aren’t helping. But if Americans are vicious occupiers , then they can feel good about themselves.

And according to the Apostle Paul, THAT is the reason for the ‘strong delusion’ that will bring the antichrist to power. He writes of the “deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, that they might be saved.”

God will allow them to believe what they WANT to believe.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12)

In reviewing 2004’s silly season, we see all the elements in place for the delivery of that strong delusion, and we even witnessed a practice run.

We saw how effectively that delusion could be nurtured — John Kerry received more votes than any losing presidential candidate in history.

We learned during the 2004 Silly Season that the majority of the world’s population favored a Kerry presidency as a result of the media onslaught, and that the only ones seemingly unaffected by it were the citizens of JesusLand.

The propagandist media almost managed to pull it off. Everyone agrees — if it weren’t for JesusLand, John Kerry would be the President of the United States.

2nd Thessalonians 2:7 says that “the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way” at the Rapture, (together with the majority of JesusLand.)

Verse 2:8 says, “And THEN shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.”

In 2004, the only thing that restrained the media’s ‘strong delusion’ from becoming political reality was that JesusLand was still here.

Tomorrow:

2004 in Review: A Year of ‘Perilous Times’

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Vol: 39 Issue: 25 Saturday, December 25, 2004

The headlines today are all about the miracle of Bethlehem. But it wasn’t about the miracle that a Virgin gave birth to the Savior of the world and the Son of God.

The headlines marveled at the miracle that Christian pilgrims came back to the Church of the Nativity and nobody killed any of them.

That wasn’t exactly the way they put it, but that was what Reuters meant with its headline, “Bethlehem Rings in More Hopeful Christmas.” It had to be, since the only hopeful-sounding part of the story was that, “some pilgrims said they felt a new atmosphere of hope in Bethlehem.”

The Reuters writer didn’t find an atmosphere of hope in his sojourn to Bethlehem, or, if he did, he managed to keep it from creeping into his article. Instead, Mark Heinrich noted that, “Israeli restrictions on Palestinians entering Bethlehem and a barrier Israel is building in the West Bank cast a shadow over the celebrations.”

Bad old Israelis! Imagine putting restrictions on Palestinians entering Bethlehem, just because the last time they were there, they barricaded themselves inside the Church of the Nativity and used the site of Jesus’ Birth as a latrine.

The Reuters article didn’t mention that, but more than half of it was devoted to the ‘restrictive’ Israeli security.

“Sections of the barrier run up to the road entering Bethlehem, lending a forbidding air. Israel says the barrier keeps suicide bombers out of its cities. Palestinians call it a step to annex occupied territory.”

How’s that for ‘fair and balanced’? Israel ‘says’ they are trying to keep suicide bombers out of their cities — hmmm. Suicide bombers have killed hundreds and maimed thousands in their cities, but to Reuters, that sounds like an ‘excuse’.

But the Palestinians say its a step to annex ‘occupied territory’. How’s that for a ‘more hopeful Christmas’?

Under the sub-title, ‘New Hope Tempered by Israeli Encirclement’ Reuters reminds us that, while Israeli troops posted signs at checkpoints leading to Bethlehem greeting visiting pilgrims with, ‘Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year’ “as before, they checked papers of travelers in only one direction at a time, causing long waits as traffic built up.”

While not mentioning the Palestinian terror attacks against Israel a single time, (apart from acknowledged that Israel ‘says’ that’s why they are building the security fence) Reuters made its point by only quoting Palestinians about the hardships the fence causes Palestinians:

“The wall is being built eight meters (26 feet) high around Bethlehem. It’s not easy for us to send a message of Christmas joy to the world when our town is being inexorably encircled by concrete, barbed wire and Jewish settlements,” said Jack Giacaman, whose family has run shops in Manger Square for generations.

Since he’s been there for generations, perhaps he might remember when the Birthplace of Christ did dual duty as a toilet for murderers?

I found it fascinating that, while blaming Israel for the hardships of the Palestinians, and basically exonerating the Palestinians of responsibility for it, Reuters managed to note that the ‘new atmosphere of hope’ (that it failed to articulate) was rooted in the death of Yasser Arafat while keeping the apparent ‘secret’ that Arafat was the obstacle to peace all along.

It is a measure of just how dismal the ‘hope’ for peace really is. The ‘hope for peace’ is rooted in the death of Yasser Arafat, who, mysteriously, managed to become a hero for peace by rejecting any peace offerings, while Israel is transformed an ‘aggressive occupier’ — by building a fence to keep Arafat’s devotees from murdering them in their beds.

Now that Arafat is dead, all bets are on Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s chosen successor, to bring about a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Reuters quoted Abbas speaking from Bethlehem and telling reporters, “We extend our hand to the Israelis. We want to negotiate, to reach peace — a peace built on justice and right.”

It sounds hopeful enough, but somehow, it has a familiar ring to it.

Assessment:

It sounds familiar because it was lifted directly out of Arafat’s political playbook. In a speech to about 2,000 supporters in Ramallah recently, Abbas spelled out his vision of a ‘peace built on justice and right.’

“What we want to achieve is an end to the whole occupation,” he said. “We want a state on the lands of ’67 and that means we will not concede Jerusalem,” he added.

In order to accept Abbas’ ‘outstretched hand of peace’ Israel must first, according to Abbas, release all 8,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, including those responsible for the murder of Israeli civilians.

Including Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to multiple life sentences for murdering Israeli women and children in a bombing attack.

Unlike its neighbors, the ‘brutal Israeli occupiers’ not only DON’T shoot down people in the street for ‘collaboration’, they don’t even HAVE the death penalty.

(Not even for the Palestinians who literally tore two Israeli reservists limb from limb in a mob attack — after the two reservists sought refuge in a Palestinian police station.)

“Today we have two former prisoners with us,” Abbas added in reference to two former detainees who joined him on stage in Ramallah. “But we want everyone to be a former prisoner — above all else Marwan Barghouti.”

On the issue of refugees, Abbas said he would continue to hold out for an implementation of UN resolution 194, which stipulates the right of return for Palestinians who fled from their homes when the state of Israel was created.

Israel’s birthday is marked by Israelis as “Independence Day”. Palestinians recognize it as well, by its Palestinian name, “Nakba Day” meaning, the ‘catastrophe’.

In his final Nakba Day speech earlier this year, Arafat told his people that the Right of Return was necessary in order to flood Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees, demographically annihilating the Jewish state.

And it was the sacred and inalienable right of the Palestinians to do just that, insisted Arafat.

So, to put it all into perspective, here is a synopsis of what it would take to accept the ‘outstretched hand of peace’ offered by Mahmoud Abbas, the man upon whom the new hopefulness for peace is based.

First, Israel must release all the terrorists it has safely locked away in jail and trust that they will all turn over a new leaf.

After they’ve released 8000 combatants back to the enemy, as a PRECONDTION of peace, then they have to surrender their holiest city, Jerusalem, over to the Palestinians for use as their capital. But peace won’t come yet.

The Israelis still have to surrender their buffer zones between them and their sworn enemies, and take down that security fence that makes it so difficult for terrorists to sneak back into Israel and kill some more of them.

But wait, there’s more!

Having rolled everything back to June 1, 1967, when the combined forces of the Arab world attempted for the third time in 25 years to annihilate the Jewish State, the now vulnerable Israel has one more task to complete, before accepting the ‘hopeful, outstretched hand of peace’ offered by Mahmoud Abbas.

Commit suicide.

It must let millions of Palestinian ‘refugees’ (and their descendants) move into ISRAEL — and NOT the new Palestinian state. That is a key point to remember.

The Palestinians want their own state, but claim that they can’t absorb their expatriate ‘citizens’ so they demand Israel absorb them instead.

Granting this precondition guarantees Israel will exist as a Jewish State until the next general election, when the new Arab majority votes it out of existence.

So, to recap the ‘miracle’ of the little town of Bethlehem, 2004:

“Pilgrims came, nobody got murdered.”

Peace MUST be just around the corner.