A picture is worth a thousand words…

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I saw this picture yesterday when I was on time.com, and I promptly saved it.  It’s a powerful image of Jesse Jackson on Nov 4 in Grant Park in Chicago.  He was watching the Obama acceptance speech. As I studied the picture, I couldn’t help but think, “What’s going on Jesse Jackson’s head?”

More than anything else, I see the release of the pent-up struggles for black civil rights.  These are tears of joy.

But is there more?

Is Jesse remembering what could have been, had Martin Luther King not been shot that fateful day of April 4, 1968 with Jesse beside him?

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Is Jesse wondering if he’s lived up to the example of his mentor, Martin Luther King?

Is Jesse thinking about how his legacy could be greater, had he not been such a domineering presence in civil rights work over the last 40 years, a presence that often created a backlash against black rights rather than advancing their agenda through patient and courageous love?

Is Jesse wishing that was him on stage, given his epithet he muttered about Barack in the not-so-distant past?

Along with the certain positive tears of joy on Jesse’s face, I couldn’t help but consider other emotions and thoughts he may have had on that night.  Regrets, maybe.  I feel conflicted about Jesse Jackson, and I wonder how deeply he’s conflicted within himself with himself.

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Which Saddleback response was MORE Biblical?

In the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency on August 16th, I found one section interesting (I haven’t listened to/read the whole thing), and that was when Rick Warren asked about how to approach evil in the world.  I have Warren’s questions and the candidates’ answers in full.  So I’d like to pose the question without giving my own perspective for whoever might want to interact:  which candidate’s response was more deeply Biblical, in your view?

Rick Warren interviewing Barack Obama:

Warren:  Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

Obama:  Evil does exist.  I mean, we see evil all the time.  We see evil in Darfur, we see evil sadly on the streets of our cities.  We see evil in parents who have viciously abused their children and I think it has to be confronted.  It has to be confronted squarely and one of the things that I strongly believe is that we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world.  That is God’s task.  But we can be soldiers in that process and we can confront it when we see it.  Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, but you know a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

Warren:  In the name of good?

Obama:  In the name of good.  And I think one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.

 

Rick Warren interviewing John McCain:

Warren:  How about the issue of evil? Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

McCain:  Defeat it.  Couple points.  One, if I’m President of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.  I will do that and I know how to do that.  I will get that done.  No one should be allowed to take thousands of American, innocent American lives. 

Of course evil must be defeated.  My friends, we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century; radical Islamic extremists.  Not long ago in Baghdad, al-Qaeda took two young men who were mentally disabled and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace and by remote control detonated those suicide vests.  If that isn’t evil, you have to tell me what is; and we’re going to defeat this evil and the central battleground according to David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden is the battles of Baghdad, Mosul, and Iraq, and we are winning and we are succeeding, and our troops will come home with honor and victory and not in defeat and that’s what’s happening.  We have, and we face this threat throughout the world.  It’s not just in Iraq.  It’s not just in Afghanistan.  Our intelligence people tell us al-Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America.

My friends, we must face this challenge.  We can face this challenge and we must totally defeat it and we’re in a long struggle, but when I’m around the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform will do it.   I have no doubt.  None.

Democracy and Socialism vs. Capitalism

Bethany and I watched Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” the other day, and I have to say I was impressed with his balanced approach to this one (as opposed to the G.W. Bush hate-fest that Fahrenheit 9/11 was).  Aside from my appreciation of Moore’s sarcastic wit and the powerful stories of suffering persons in Sicko, the most insightful and important part of the movie, in my opinion, was Moore’s conversation with former member of Parliament Tony Benn.  I went ahead and transcribed it word for word, and I’ll bold what I thought were the most important insights by Tony.  I found a shorter Youtube video that has a fragment of the interview as well.  His thoughts on democracy and the power of the people to effect change are incredible, and really show how cynical and lazy Americans are in comparison to other places in the world when it comes to working for social change.

Benn:  It all began with democracy.  (Before) if you had money, you could get health care, education, look after yourself when you were old, and what democracy did was to give the poor the vote and it moved power from the marketplace to the polling station, from the wallet to the ballot.

And what people said was very simple, “In the 1930s we had mass unemployment, but we didn’t have unemployment during the War.  If you can have full employment by killing Germans, we can have full employment by building hospitals, by building schools, recruiting nurses, recruiting teachers.  If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.

This  leaflet that was issued in 1948 is very straightforward;

“Your new national health service begins on the 5th of July. What is it and how do you get it?  It will provide you with all medical, dental, and nursing care, everyone rich or poor, man or child, can use it or part of it, there are no charges except for a few exceptional items, there are no insurance qualifications, but it is not a charity. You are paying for it mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in times of illness.”

Somehow the few words sum the whole thing up.  Even Margaret Thatcher said, “It’s safe in our hands.”  It’s as non-controversial as votes for women.  Nobody could come along now and say, “Why should women vote?”  People wouldn’t have it, and they wouldn’t accept the deterioration or destruction of the National Health Service.

Moore:  “If Thatcher or Blair said, ‘I’m going to dismantle the National Health Service?’”

Benn:  There would be a revolution, yep…

I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world.  Far more revolutionary than socialist ideas or anyone else’s ideas.  If you have power, you use it to meet the needs of you and your community.  And this idea of choice, which capitalism talks about all the time, ‘You’ve gotta have a choice,’ choice depends on the freedom to choose, and if you’re shackled with debt, you don’t have the freedom to choose.

Moore:  It seems like it benefits the system if the average working person is shackled with debt

Benn:  Yes, people in debt become hopeless and hopeless people don’t vote.  So people say, “Well, everyone should vote.”  I say that if the poor in Britain and the United States turned out and voted for people who represented their interests, it would be a real democratic revolution.  They (the system) don’t want that to happen, so (they’re)  keeping people hopeless and pessimistic. 

I think there are two ways people are controlled.  First, they are frightened people, and secondly, demoralized.  An educated, healthy, and confident nation is harder to govern, and I think there’s an element of thinking in some people, “We don’t want people to be educated, healthy, and confident, because they would get out of control. 

The top 1% of the world’s population own 80% of the world’s wealth.  It’s incredible that people put up with it!  But, they’re poor, they’re demoralized, they’re frightened, and therefore think perhaps the safest thing to do is to take orders and hope for the best.

The different sides of George W. Bush, and the call to wisdom…

I opened up Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope today because I was reminded of a very insightful observation he made in his chapter “Values” in the book. It is focused on George W. Bush, and helps to provide some understanding, I think, of George Bush the man vs. George Bush the leader. So here are the words of Obama;

“As I munched on hors d’oeuvres and engaged in small talk with a handful of House members, I recalled my previous two encounters with the President, the first a brief congratulatory call after the election, the second a small White House breakfast with me and the other incoming senators. Both times I had found the President to be a likable man, shrewd and disciplined but with the same straightforward manner that had helped him win two elections; you could easily imagine him owning the local car dealership down the street, coaching Little League, and grilling in his backyard- the kind of guy who would make for good company so long as the conversation revolved around sports and the kids.

There had been a brief moment during the breakfast meeting, though, after the backslapping and the small talk and when all of us were seated, with Vice President Cheney eating his eggs Benedict impassively and Karl Rove at the far end of the table discreetly checking his Blackberry, that I witnessed a different side of the man. The President had begun to discuss his second-term agenda, mostly a reiteration of his campaign talking points- the importance of staying the course in Iraq and renewing the Patriot Act, the need to reform Social Security and overhaul the tax system, his determination to get an up-or-down vote on his judicial appointees- when suddenly it felt as if somebody in the back room had flipped a switch. The President’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty. As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring, and appreciated the Founders’ wisdom in designing a system to keep power in check.” (45-46)

I don’t quote Obama here because of some hidden agenda or to enhance the already ridiculous partisan conservative vs. liberal divide. Instead, I find Obama’s observation wise and reasonable, as I have carried a significant discomfort for years now in observing the leadership of George Bush. I simple have not been able to figure the man out, especially as he has assumed that “almost messianic certainty” on issues and situations and has essentially called anyone who dared to disagree with his position unpatriotic and dead wrong. There’s something very dangerous about that kind of approach, especially the unwillingness to welcome the accountability of others.

All of us need to surround ourselves with folks who will keep us honest; who will encourage us when they believe we are making good decisions and will challenge us when they believe we are being unwise and self-centered. We are limited in our understanding as people, and we need to welcome criticism and accountability as we seek to lead in various ways. We certainly should not crumble under that accountability to lose the contribution of our distinctive voice (otherwise we will simply become a mishmash of others’ perspectives and hopelessly confused), but we were not created to be alone. I guess what I’m saying is that we are called to cultivate wisdom; to walk the tough line in this case between our perspectives and the perspectives of others around us. This is not easy, but that’s part of the definition of wisdom.

I just happen to think George W. Bush is not a man who seeks wisdom; he surrounds himself with like-minded persons who either rubber-stamp his perspective or continue to whisper their shared belief on reality consistently in ways that make him averse to hearing anything different. That’s not the trait of a leader, but of a despot, and therefore makes Obama’s words that much more important, “As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring.”

What caused me to think deeper about this issue was seeing Scott McClellan (former press secretary for Bush) appearing on the Daily Show and giving the reasons behind why he wrote his scathingly honest insider book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.” His deepest reason was not to undermine the credibility of Bush (though his account certainly does so), but to expose the terrible blend of partisan politics that resides in the Capital today of conservative vs. liberal sniping and close-mindedness and outright hatred. McClellan cared enough at how Bush was contributing to this us vs. them mentality (through labelling those who disagreed with him unpatriotic) that he was willing to rise above personal and party loyalty to present another way that seeks to ultimately shape a different kind of approach in Washington, and because Washington is influential in shaping political discussions across the land, a way that will hold the potential for a deeper political conversation in America. I think that’s a worthy goal. It’s a tough row to hoe, but it’s definitely the kind of leadership America needs. I see some of that same vision in Obama’s Audacity of Hope. Does that mean I’ll vote for him? Not necessarily. But it certainly contributes to my thought as I consider my vote this upcoming fall.

This is an attack on the black church (and if the black church, then the church at large)…

Jeremiah Wright and Cornel West have awakened me from my middle-class white slumber in the last three months.  Lost amidst all the hullabaloo from 10-second sound-bites yanked from the greater context of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons which news organizations then talked hours on is the greater message Jeremiah is seeking to convey to the American nation. Jeremiah Wright is not Obama’s lapdog, and Obama is not his. Barack Obama is a politician, and Jeremiah Wright is an eloquent, shockingly-honest, sometimes-divisive pastor of God’s church.  The two are very different things. In order for us to understand the experience of the black church and the foundation from which Wright speaks, we need to move beyond the sound-bites and into a good, full listen to him in the videos below; even if, or especially if, we disagree with him.

If you are a person who is sick and tired of news organizations telling us what we should believe and showing us what we should see, please give this man a full listen in the videos below.

And if you want to know, REALLY know, this man that Barack Obama is separating himself from because of mushy political centrism in seeking to get elected, please give this man a full listen in the videos below. Barack Obama is being more and more exposed as a man who used Trinity UCC as a leg up, as a prestige card to play with the black community, rather than a fully participating member invested in attacking the problem of racism head-on. Calling for racial unity is nice and all, but when significant embedded racism still exists in our society, it’s time for troublemakers, rabble-rousers to stand up and speak truth to power, their political careers be damned.

And let this be stated clearly, if you can watch Survivor or American Idol or Dancing with the Stars (“reality” shows) or Lost or 24 or The Office (hour-long escapes from reality into suspended disbelief) or Hannity and Colmes (a show of barking partisan hacks) for hours on end every week, I’m fairly certain you can watch an embattled man (and a fine one at that) talk about something of vital importance for our world today in the videos below.

I’m sitting on some thoughts, but I will write them in the next couple days after wrapping up some loose ends for school. So keep attuned here if you’re interested in catching some of my thoughts on this; I want to contribute to this conversation that is simply not taking place in our society right now. It is DESPERATELY needed, and I want to be a part of it. Even in a little tiny way.

Video #2 of the same speech

Video #3 of the same speech

Video #4 of the same speech

Video #5 of the same speech

Video #6 of the same speech

Nate Myers gets very frustrated and works hard for a solid response.

I’ve been getting these emails recently, you see, that frustrate me.  Here’s the text for one of them;

The Bible warns us of Barack Obama!
Body: The Bible warns us of Barack Obama! Please Read All!
Body: The Bible has warned us that ‘A man will come from the East that will be charismatic in nature and have proposed solutions for all our problems and his rhetoric will attract many supporters!’

When will our pathetic Nation quit turning their back on God and understand that this man is ‘A Muslim’….First, Last and always….and we are AT WAR with the Muslim Nation, whether our bleeding-heart, secular, Liberal friends believe it or not. This man fits every description from the Bible of the ‘Anti-Christ’!

I’m just glad to know that there are others that are frightened by this man!

Who is Barack Obama?

Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice.

If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts…this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States…better heed this and pray about it and share it.

snopes.com ..’ confirms this is factual. Check for yourself.

Who is Barack Obama?

Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita , Kansas. Obama’s parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, ‘He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.’ Obama’s political handlers are attempting to make it appear that that he is not a radical.
Obama’s introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son’s education.

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.
Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.

Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches. Do you want someone like this as your PRESIDENT? Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential candidacy.

The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States, one of their own!

Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?…… NOT ME!


Needless to say, I was frustrated from this email forward, so decided to write back, and here’s my response;

To whom it may concern;

Be very, very careful about the sources we get our “news” from. Snopes.com, the supposed source for this “factually correct” myth on Barack Obama, noticed this email was getting publicity and took time to completely refute it themselves. Here’s the link to their refutation, where they say themselves,

“One version of the email in circulation claims ‘We were told this checked out on snopes.com. It is factual. Check for yourself,’ and includes a link to this website. It is our guess that whoever included that bit was counting on folks to not check, as our article says the opposite, that the polemic is not factual but rather false.”

I get innumerable amounts of emails from my friends and others around that usually start off with something designed to instill fear in us like “The Bible warns us of _____________” or “It is clear the evil emenating from ________________ is from Satan,” or a bunch of different intros. I would urge all my friends and acquaintances to look beyond the fear-mongering and stop, look at a variety of different sources, read up on the issue, talk to your friends, and ask whoever sends us the email where they believe the Bible warns of _________________, and ask them why they think it talks about this person. A good question might be,

“You say _______ fits every description of the Anti-Christ. I’d love to hear your description of the anti-Christ and we can talk.”

If we don’t have time to stop and read up on whatever the issue is, I would urge us (I try to make it a practice of mine) NOT to forward the email.

Regarding this email, first off, if we deeply value the Scriptures, we should be a bit put off right at the beginning by someone claiming that we are “at war with the Muslim Nation.” Biblically speaking, the people of God are at war against the powers of evil and chaos in this world, and those very powers exist just as much within us as in some people or place across the globe. I won’t eagerly jump to the defense of the Muslim religion because I think there is much that is twisted and wrong in it, but I DO realize Muslims are human beings made in the image of God who are important enough for Christians to give our lives for. Remember, “God so loved the WORLD” in John 3:16, not “God so loved EVERYONE LIKE ME.” So no, “we” (Christians who care about Scripture and how it forms our lives) are NOT at war with the Muslim Nation.

Secondly, I certainly don’t think Barack Obama is the savior of the world, but he’s certainly far from the anti-Christ. Vote for whomever you will, but we should know the facts, not a chain propoganda email sent around to make folks afraid.

Barack is an American citizen who was born in the United States, and while he DID live in Indonesia for awhile and attend a “Muslim” school for a bit, it was not a Wahabi Madrassa as this email seeks to state. In fact, after FOX News ran with the rumor that he attended such a school on their broadcasting without doing the work to either go to or research the school itself, CNN did just that. CNN dispatched their senior international correspondent John Vause directly to Jakarta to investigate, and he went to the school which, it turns out, is a public school. Hardi Priyono, the school headmaster, said, “This is a public school. We don’t focus on religion. In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don’t give preferential treatment.” One of Obama’s classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, was interviewed, and he said “It is not an Islamic school. It’s general. There is a lot of Christians, Buddhist, also Confucian…so that’s a mixed school.” Link to the story here.

It should be noted, and I will bold this section for emphasis, that the Fox News show (Fox and Friends) that broadcast this rumor backtracked on the story the following week, while still repeatedly citing the article from conservative site Insight that started the whole rumor. In our search for news that can be trusted, will we err on the side of the news organization that actually tracked down the radical Muslim rumor (CNN) or the news organization that cited an anonymous source (Insight, then Fox News)? I think I know which one I’ll be more likely to trust.

The reality is that as a child, Obama spent four years in Indonesia with his step-father, a non-practicing Muslim, and his mother. Between ages 6 and 8, Obama attended a local Muslim school in Jakarta; after that, he was enrolled in a Roman Catholic school. In his book Dreams Of My Father (p.142), Obama writes:

In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended.

In his more recent book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes (p.274), “Without the money to go to the international school that most expatriate children attended, I went to local Indonesian schools and ran the streets with the children of farmers, servants, tailors, and clerks.”

So no, Obama did not attend a radical Wahabi school and is not and never has been a Muslim. In fact, the man Obama’s mother married in fact was not a radical Muslim, but a non-practicing Muslim, which most Muslims in the world who value their faith would call no Muslim at all. And the quote from this forward that Obama supposedly said that he “was once a Muslim, but he also attended Catholic school” is patently false. I’d love to see the source for this quote.

In addition, Obama did not use the Koran when sworn into office (news source link here), the claim that he will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance (and in fact turns his back and slouches) is false, and he addressed a series of these claims in a presidential debate;

If the video embedding doesn’t work, the link to the video is here.

Again, Barack Obama is not and never has been Muslim, and describes himself as a Christian, as rooted in the Christian tradition, and his membership in the United Church of Christ began in the mid-1980s, long before he contemplated a political career.

Let the record state, however, that I, Nathan Myers, am not endorsing Obama as president, but I am mystified by the amount of fear-mongering and false propaganda surrounding this man, and so I decided to dig for myself and respond. I have my own issues with Barack Obama, and I question most politicians’ supposed “born again” or “Christian” labels, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue in itself.

Get educated, vote responsibly, and don’t expect a Savior from Republicans or Democrats, Americans, Brits, or Chinese.

Last I checked, there’s only one of those.

Nate

 

The Dangers of Forgetting the Past

The United States is said not to deal fully with its past. To which I say good for us. Too much dwelling on history can become a prison.

– Condolezza Rice at the opening of the Davos World Economic forum 

 

Hmmmm….I wonder how that would work in a marriage.  “Honey, I’d rather not talk about the specifics of my adultery.  Too much dwelling on history can become a prison.”

 

ht:  Bob Carlton