Why is the road to hell paved with good intentions?

I am reading a “thriller” novel by Kyle Mills, called the Utopia Experiment, in which two men who were persecuted by the Nazis and the Communists–those most twisted of utopians (until ISIS came along)–escape East Germany and decide to create the perfect world, in which evil and cruelty has been eliminated. That means, to them, eliminating the powers that enable evil and cruelty to flourish. Since the people they want to eliminate are by definition powerful, they must find a way to trick them into eliminating themselves. While they come up with a very creative way to accomplish that feat, they find they have left their own compassion and humanity behind.

The biggest problem was their defective view of human nature. Initially, they assumed that human beings by nature are, if not persecuted, kind and caring. The solution was to remove the exceptions who are evil and cruel, which should create utopia. That didn’t work in Soviet Russia, Laos, Cambodia, the China of Mao, countless African countries or anywhere in the ancient world. It never works because the lust for power always corrupts good intentions. Through their experiments on the brains of human subjects, most of whom were unwilling, they come to the conclusion that all humans are merely complex computers called the brain, surrounded by meat, and that God does not exist.

What the novel doesn’t address is why, once that conclusion about humankind was reached, they would care about eliminating the powerful and cruel, or saving the weak. These men reached their conclusion by the same route that totalitarians throughout history have reached the same conclusion: THEIR DRIVE TO CREATE A UTOPIA NECESSITATED SO MUCH CRUELTY ON THEIR PART THAT THEIR GUILT REQUIRED THE BELIEF THAT THE PEOPLE WHOSE SUFFERING THEY CAUSED WERE JUST SO MUCH CATTLE, OR COMPUTERS PROPPED UP BY MEAT.

The founding fathers of our nation had a much better understanding of human nature, since that understanding was grounded in the Bible. They knew that human nature is corrupt, and therefore those who rule must be restrained and guided. Thus our constitution has been successful for the most part, because they had no illusions about any nation being a utopia, nor did they covet what any ruler had. In addition, their beliefs about the nature of humankind were shaped by the Biblical understanding that man is made by God in his image.

The utopian drive in nation building has given us Communism, Fascism, Nazism, revolutions in which a cruel and greedy leadership was replaced by one even more cruel and greedy. Building a perfect world is very messy business, and lots of eggs must be broken (revolution-speak for killing anyone who tries to stop you). Misdirected compassion on the community and individual level is also a messy business. The following is one example of misdirected compassion that embodies the wrong notions of Utopianism, while teaching the central pillar of success.

From World Magazine, May 27, 2017. This is about a man who turned his life around, who went from stealing from stores to managing 4 of them.

Collins spent a total of 27 years in prison for drug-related convictions (mostly burglary). Each time he finished a prison term, he careened right back behind bars, where he experienced his first rape. No matter where he ran, he found crack. He spent his food stamps and county-funded general relief checks on crack. When that money was gone, he stood outside upscale restaurants and offered to sing for customers. With his beautiful singing voice and natural charisma, he won the generosity of strangers. ‘I don’t want money. I’m just singing to feed my family,’ he promised his benefactors, who ordered for him (they thought) whatever he wanted off the menu. He then delivered the hot food straight to his drug dealers in exchange for crack.

“That’s why Collins sighs when he sees well-meaning volunteer groups out on Skid Row donating free stuff. That night we passed one handing out sandwiches, bottled water, and hygiene kits. ‘This is the cold, hard truth: I think they’re crippling the people down here,’ Collins said. ‘If you’re providing me clothes, food, and tents, I don’t have to spend the money I get from the government on anything but my next hit.’

Collins says he had to go through the hell he endured: ‘I was hardheaded. I didn’t want to get off the streets because I loved crack with a passion.’ It took a lot of wrong turns, bad falls, and broken bones before he finally decided, ‘You know what, I’m through.’ And at the right time, God sent him people who remembered his birthday and stuck around even after he skipped out on rehab: ‘They didn’t try to love me from a distance. They could have thrown me bread, jacket, and a tent, but they were really concerned with what’s going on inside me.’ Collins credits such ‘up-close and personal’ attention and ‘unconditional love’ for keeping him sober for a year.”

All the important principles are there and the lesson shows why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps the master principles are those in the previous paragraph: 1. You will not kick a pernicious habit until you are so thoroughly sick of the consequences that there is nowhere to go but up. Collins later talks about how, even after he was off crack for years, the temptation was still constant, but he was truly sick enough of his old life that instead of yielding to temptation, he would reach out to… 2. Accountability partners. People who cared and loved him enough to keep him on the narrow way, because they knew…3. Give your burdens to God. Ultimately, only God can fix what is wrong with you, because everything that is wrong begins with separation from God.

Sexual lust runs the world: Three incompatible worldviews.

Genesis 3:4-5. “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’.” This was the original appeal to the foundational sin and desire of the human race, “you will be like God”, also known as pride. What are the godlike attributes of humans? Only the ability to create, or procreate, life, and the ability to take life. These are also the battlefields of incompatible worldviews. I am going to talk about the worldviews from the perspective of what their respective scriptures or true adherents say, not what every individual does, because the heart of man is “desperately wicked.”

The Christian views about procreation is that God wants human offspring to have dominion over the earth for the purpose of stewardship until the day God’s kingdom is ushered in, and to spread the knowledge of God throughout the earth. In that worldview, sexual activity is for those lofty purposes, and to give pleasure in the marital bond. Women in that worldview are companions, helpers, responders, and the Bible says that women must be treated with respect lest “your prayers be hindered.” God will not respond to the prayers of men who mistreat women. Sexual lust outside of the bounds of marriage is a temptation to be resisted, though Christian men (and women) are also sinners and will fall into temptations. When they do, repentance and restoration should follow. This worldview tries to honor rather than usurp God’s power to give and to take life.

Yesterday the big news was the suicide bombing murder of 22 mostly young women and children at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester England. Many more were injured. Of course, ISIS claimed responsibility, or rather boasted of the massacre. In their statement, they rejoiced in the deaths and suffering of the “crusaders.” Say what, crusaders? Most of those victims were kids. For you and I, this is insane, but to the perverted minds of jihadists, the Crusades were yesterday. But these perverted souls aren’t really fighting against the crusades, they are fighting something very ancient with a modern expression, though few will admit it and fewer still even understand what they are fighting.

We will have to go back some years, before the term “islamophobia” was invented by the apologists, in order to find some Muslim leaders who were totally honest about their real enemy. Before he got down to the brutal truth, former Grand Mufti of Australia Sheikh Taj el-din Al-Hilal, in MEMRI.ORG (Middle East Media Research Institute), Feb. 18, 2004, blamed their usual suspects: “Sheikh Al-Hilal accused the U.S. of terrorism and expressed support for martyrdom/suicide attacks: ‘We are proud of the Islamic resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Kashmir, and everywhere in the world that seeks to achieve its legitimate rights in accordance with the international resolutions, the human rights conventions, and the U.N. resolutions. We are also proud of the Islamic resistance that liberated southern Lebanon, led by Hizbullah, the legitimate Lebanese national movement, that forced the Israeli occupation army to withdraw from southern Lebanon, dragging trails of disappointment and shame behind it.

‘We are also proud of what Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are both doing in the occupied territories. We support the resistance and support, with all our might, the martyrdom operations carried out by the Palestinian liberation movements, operations that are a legitimate act against the cruel occupation, according to all international norms and conventions. Also, whoever carries out a martyrdom [operation] is a pure Shahid and one of the men of Paradise. Moreover, he stands at the head of the Shahids.” 

This is the same guy who now condemns ISIS for taking it too far. But what really underlies the Shahid terrorist jihadi worldview is something else: In another interview, Sheikh Al-Hilali discussed Muslim life in Australia: “More dangerous yet are the sex education classes in the schools. In the West, the society is divided, generally speaking, into different parts in accordance with how interesting they are. First comes caring for dogs and cats. In second place is the woman, and in third place is the child, and in fourth place is the male. Australia is one of the Western societies, and it has recently enacted laws allowing men to marry men and women to marry women. The church officially registers them… These are the dangers of freedom and permissiveness.” As a Christian, I don’t totally disagree (well, I think cats should not be lumped in with dogs, since they are more interesting, but that’s me) but generally Christians don’t kill and destroy what they disagree with.

Two years later he was even more bold in asserting their true enemy. He had a lot to say about female modesty: From The Guardian, Oct. 26, 2006. Sheik Taj al-din al-Hilali delivered his comments in a religious address on adultery to around 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, but they only came to the attention of the wider public when they were published in the Australian paper today.

“Sheik Hilali was quoted as saying: ‘If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside … without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab [the headdress worn by some Muslim women], no problem would have occurred’.”

Sheik Hilali, the top cleric at Sydney’s largest mosque, is considered the most senior Islamic leader by many Muslims in Australia and New Zealand. He has served as an adviser to the Australian government on Muslim issues, but has attracted controversy before. In 2004 he was criticised for saying, in a sermon in Lebanon, that the September 11 attacks were “God’s work against the oppressors”.

This is the second incompatible worldview: While he says “it is the duty of man to avert his glance or walk away,” a sentiment I do agree with–though in my own weakness and bad thought habits I often fail to observe–too often men in his world transmute their guilt about their lusting into the Shahid jihadi version of Islam, while constructing an entire philosophy of victimhood around what they think are acceptable rationales for mass murder (to avoid confronting the real reason for their hatred of the West). Both history and an understanding of human nature should make it apparent that covering up women to protect men from lustful thoughts is futile–lust of the eyes is hard-wired. That being said, there are passages in both the Bible and the Quran that address female modesty, though those in the Quran are far more restrictive. female modesty in the Quran

The sentiment behind both the Bible and Quran passages about modesty are intended to protect women and (at least in the Bible) to honor them in their respective cultures. But that protection is from lustful actions, not thoughts. It’s a very long leap from protecting female modesty to justifying the murdering thousands of people because men so guilty and frustrated by their raging lusts have twisted their religion to call their hatred holy. I have read parts of the Quran which appear to justify murder of “infidels”, but have also read parts that condemn the murder of innocents. The Quran, or Koran, is probably the most disagreed-upon major scripture in the world. But what I absolutely believe is that the justifications explicitly used by jihadis to murder, rape and torture–such as “Muslims are victims of the west, imperialism, Zionist conspiracy, The Crusades, Israel suppressing the Palestinians,” you name it–are all political cover for the real driver, which is their unfulfilled lustful fantasies and the attendant guilt, which they project upon women. For jihadis, rape and murder are inseparable, and for the Shahids, the most twisted of all, murder comes first and rape is deferred to the afterlife. This worldview claims to do their god’s work, but is usurping the one true God’s power to take life.

Which brings me to the third incompatible worldview, the one that seeks to usurp God’s power of life and death, and to supplant God in every way: That is the worldview of total expression of sexual lust, and complete denial of it’s consequences. While it is the mirror image of the previous worldview of sexual lust suppression, it’s still a culture of death. If anything goes and there are no rules or moral codes and no deity above your own desires, then nothing has a value except what each individual assigns to it. There is no reason that children should be protected, nor should women, no reason the strongest shouldn’t rule, no reason to care for the sick or comfort those who suffer or mourn.

Such conclusions are clearly unacceptable to those high-minded promoters of total license, so like the high-minded jihadis and Shahids, they have developed elaborate political covers and self serving philosophies. Freedom is the rallying cry, but freedom from what and to do what? The cornerstone of their freedom is being like God, by exercising the power to create life through unfettered sexual activity, and exercising the power to take life by killing the unwanted consequences of the former.

When you read what these radicals are saying and add up the signs they march with (their scriptures), the equation becomes clear: The right to any kind of sexual expression – the consequences of that expression + cost to taxpayers – cost to participants of that expression = freedom. Then there is the corollary: Denial of taxpayer funding + moral code = oppression, fascism, war on women, narrow minded bigotry.

Holders of those assorted worldviews are invited to prove me wrong, by using the following formula: research + reasoned argument + supporting quotes = defensible conclusion. What I expect, however, is the old standby: ad hominem attack + name calling + accusation of __________phobia = smug sense of superiority.  Their arguments will prove where they stand, like those unveiled comments of planned parenthood (this world’s ultimate euphemism!).

 

Peace in relationships, part 2: The last few seconds of your life.

I just watched an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Chicago Fire. Much to my shock, three of the shows primary characters died in a fire. Mouch, the oldest fire fighter on the show, had decided this would be his last fire, he was retiring. He told his wife last night and his best friend Hermann, a fellow fire fighter, just before going into the burning factory. Hermann had just gone out of his way to bless a little boy whom just a few days ago he had rescued from a burning car; he was still feeling on top of the world. Matt Casey, another fire fighter and one of the main two characters, was on the outs with his wife Gabby, a paramedic who was also on the scene of the fire. Then there was Cruz, who was angry with Mouch and who treated him shabbily a few hours before.

At the moment Hermann, Casey and Mouch entered the burning factory, only one of them was at peace in all his relationships. As the fire progressed too rapidly to be contained, Mouch had a heart attack and Hermann came back to rescue him, but was trapped, and both died. Meanwhile, Cruz had to be restrained from charging into the building to try to rescue Mouch, who he was so angry with before the fire. He screamed and cried his apologies to Mouch from outside, but Mouch was already dead. Casey’s wife Gabby watched in horror was the building started collapsing, and since they were both on the same radio system, he was able to say goodbye to her while she was begging him to put his oxygen mask back on (he could speak his last words more clearly to her without the mask…and death from smoke inhalation was a lot more merciful than burning to death).

What I was thinking back to in all this was a terrible traffic wreck I had witnessed when I was driving with my oldest daughter to a church family camp. She is almost 27 this year, but at the time she was just a little kid. She pointed out the wreck of the minivan, and I wanted to use it as a teachable moment (one of my habits, maybe not always appropriate). I said to her “I wonder what that family was saying to each other just before they died. Were they at peace with each other, or arguing?” It was too long ago to be sure of my actual words, but they were along those lines. I added “we should always be right with each other and with God, because look what can happen in an instant.”

Needless to say, I haven’t always obeyed my own admonition, but now that I am 70, and partly crippled from a stroke, and in constant pain from various places–I find it much easier to be at peace with people in my life. I know my time is much shorter than it was, and I look forward to seeing my Lord and receiving a body that won’t wear out. I wish I had this mindset years ago. It is never too late to be at peace with others, but the more we take our health and the years we have left for granted, the less likely we are to seek peace and to put our pride aside.

If you realize this is a good time for that, maybe my previous post can be helpful.

How to be at peace in your relationships.

Do you know what I mean? I DON’T mean how to have a vital blessed marriage or deep abiding friendships. Such unparalleled blessings are the result of unrelenting work, ruthless self-examination and being right with God. That does not lend itself to following general advice on a blog.

I am just shooting for a lower standard here. By peace I mean you hold no grudges, harbor no residual hard feelings from past slights, do not find yourself inwardly cursing or criticizing, actually look forward to seeing the person (unless they’re boring) or at least don’t avoid them or dread seeing them. You may say, “I can check all these off, I’m there”, BUT….if you get together with someone and somehow you get into a fight, or get snarky, then guess what? You aren’t at peace, you’ve been fooling yourself.

So what qualifies me to give advice on being at peace? 1. I have actively forgiven anyone who has wronged me, whether they asked for forgiveness or not. That even includes people who have stolen from me, and those who have betrayed my trust. How do I know I have forgiven them? I can think about them with no animosity. 2. I am no longer capable of being or feeling offended, even if someone were to make fun of my conditions (funny walking and writing due to stroke). I simply don’t take offense. In very rare instances when someone does make fun of me, I agree that I walk funny and say “be glad you’re not me.”

Feel free to question and disagree with anything I am about to say. But if you want to be at peace with others, don’t dismiss what you haven’t practiced. Why am I the way I now am? The apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” No Paul, I am the foremost sinner! I live that, so what right do I have to be offended? You don’t think you are a sinner? Not even a little? Then accept that your relationships will all eventually turn to shit, and you’ll be blaming others.

So let’s start with the way you talk to yourself. You know, that hypercritical voice in your head, the one that curses out others for every little slight. Oh, you don’t do that? What a saint you are. You certainly don’t need my advice. But for everyone else, let me posit an extreme example of why not to take that voice seriously. Let’s say that someone is constantly berating themselves, telling themselves “you are worthless, life will never get better, you should kill yourself”, so that person decides to do that by jumping off a bridge. They jump, and at that very moment, when it’s too late to make a better decision, that same voice says, “why’d you do that, there’s all sorts of reasons to live, you really aren’t that bad….now it’s too late.”

That is one of the ways people talk to themselves–self denigration. That same voice denigrates others. That voice hates everyone and everything. Is that voice you, or a demon or something possessing you? Who knows? I do know who controls it, who can laugh at it and ridicule it (no, you can’t totally silence it, so ridicule is the next best way to tame it). Who? You only! While we’re at it, who runs the projector of the movies of your past hurts, insults, offenses that make you so hurt or angry? You only! Who can decide to speak to your inner self the words that bring life? You only! But will you?

What really stops us from speaking words of life to ourselves? When I was a little kid, I was super sensitive. The slightest look askance or mildest rebuke sent me into a tailspin of self pity. I would frequently go off alone and fantasize. Not about revenge, but about killing or injuring myself as a way of saying “look what you did to me.” The strange attraction of victimhood that leads to self pity is the main barrier to people loving themselves and others. Victimhood feels good, because it makes you somehow feel noble, and removes your personal responsibility for your circumstances and bad decisions. But it’s a poor substitute for love and duty.

RELATIONSHIP KILLING HABITS: THE TO NOT DO LIST

1. Frequent use of accusatory over-generalizations, such as always and never, as in “you always do_______ or you never______.”  Most people who do that don’t even think about what they are saying. How can you know what someone always or never does? If you believe you know, pity you.

2. Mind reading, of which #1 is an example. If you act or talk as if you know what someone always or never does, or if you tell someone else what their intentions or their motives are, you are in effect saying you can read their mind. Sometimes you guess right, but most of the time you just piss someone off. Even if you did guess right, you have turned the other into an opponent, and they will not admit you are right.

3. This is one I still stumble on and might be the hardest to break: instead of listening and trying to understand what the other is really saying, you are simply formulating your rebuttal.

4. PRIDE!!! This is the worst one and the root of all the other sins and mistakes and transgressions. Pride is exhibited by rash words, ridicule of wise counsel, immediate reaction and anger. Some of my favorite proverbs about pride are: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2); “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1); “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:15-18); “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom” (13:10); “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly” (15:1-2); “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (17:10); “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (18:12). And my favorite, the end result of pride: “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.” (Proverbs 29:1).

5. Saying “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” as if such phrases meant anything. In the next section I will explain how to effectively ask forgiveness.

6. Over talking! Know when to be silent, which is way more often than you would like, but show your wisdom in deeds rather than blab. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28); “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Provs 18:2).

7. Self talking the problem rather than the solution. A simple example is telling yourself, or someone telling you, “don’t forget to ___________”. The mind cannot visualize a negative, a “not doing”. If you are trying to visualize not forgetting, what are you actually visualizing? Yes, forgetting. In relationships the problem is whatever offense you are thinking about, and the solution is so obvious that it can’t wait for the next list. The solution to not forgetting is remembering. Tell yourself to remember something rather than not to forget. You will be surprised how difficult that habit is to break. Visualize how you want the relationship to be, rather than the offense.

THE TO DO LIST (in reverse order of the not do list)

7. Why is it so hard to visualize how you want it to be? Because you have to imagine something that either hasn’t happened yet, or something that was lost. It’s easy to remember the offenses, and that will not make peace.

6. When you are tempted to speak, stop and consider what outcome you are hoping for. Are the words you are about to utter likely to get that outcome? Will the words edify, bless, illuminate, educate? Are they wise counsel, are you okay with your words possibly being ignored or misunderstood? If you can’t answer positively to all those questions, take the proverbs above to heart, and remain silent.

5. When you have offended another, whether intentionally or not, and if you value the relationship more than you value being right, say “I was wrong to ____________” “will you forgive me?” Not I’m sorry or I apologize. But I wasn’t wrong, you say? Doesn’t matter, your pride needs effrontery. The words “I was wrong” affront your pride, so say them for that reason. No way fool, no one tells me what to do you say? Okay, stay broke, or lonely, or angry while you exalt yourself, I don’t care.

4. What else do I need to say about pride? Most of all, God hates the prideful. The flip side is  “When a man’s ways please the Lordhe makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

3. Listen intentionally, not to formulate a snappy comeback, but to understand the heart or the hurt behind someone’s words. You’ve heard of active listening, where you wait for the person to finish their say and then ask clarifying questions. Keep that going until they acknowledge that you understand. Then see #5 in this list.

2 and 1. They are similar enough to be combined. If you practice #3 on this list you won’t fall into 1 or 2 on the other list.

None of this is easy, but what that is easy is also worthwhile? Now go practice and when you fall, keep getting better. I will do the same.

When the stronger attack the weaker….

….there are only three possible positions: you are either a violator, a protector, or an enabler. The violators are the attackers, and whatever their justifications, their aim is to impose their will on others. The protectors are driven to defend the weaker and neutralize the violators. The enablers are the largest and most diverse group. Their spectrum, from least to most culpable for the violators getting away with what they do, span those who are afraid and silent in the face of evil to those who justify or worse, lend support to evil.

Protectors generally just are the way they are, and have been protective towards others most of their lives. Many are shaped by personal suffering and empathize with others who suffer. Often they are strong yet identify with the weak. I remember reading the book, The Blind Side. Michael Lewis, who is unusually perceptive, pointed out that the huge, strong protagonist, Michael Oher, was a natural protector despite the very hard life he had lived. This drive to protect made him a fit for the position of left tackle, the protector of the quarterback’s blind side.

Violators are perhaps the mirror image of protectors. Personal suffering, which might have forged empathy in a protector, instead forges a desire to dominate others and forms much self justification for hurting others. Whether they are using violence to improve their own circumstances, or to avoid the weakness they equate with their own suffering, after awhile they come to identify with and even relish it.

Some enablers rarely like the violators and often fear them. That kind of enabler is usually silent about the violence, though if they are confronted about their silence, they will usually either lash out at the questioner, or find a way to justify the violent. Whether the justifier enabler is trying to avoid guilt or actually believes that violators are responding to their own hard circumstances, they do more damage than the violators themselves. But the worst kind of enabler is what I call the “noble” enabler. They feel so ennobled by their compassion that they forget justice. Or maybe they don’t know what justice is or what it requires.

King Solomon of Israel was the wisest man who ever lived. His wisdom was from God. In Ecclesiastes 8:11, he says, “because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the hearts of the children of man are fully set to do evil.” The sentence against an evil deed is justice…but only if carried out, and not simply that, but speedily! So what is the effect of failing to apply justice? What is the effect of allowing endless appeals against a sentence?  There is something inside the human heart that demands justice for others (and too often leniency for self), and when that justice is delayed or set aside, evil flourishes.

Compassion without justice enables evil, but justice without compassion…..well, that isn’t really justice, it’s just something to give cover to violators. No one ever showed true compassion like Jesus Christ. In John 8, when a woman was caught in the act of adultery, the justice lovers called for her death by stoning, but Jesus confronted them with their own sin, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

When Jesus suffered the most painful death possible for the sake of others, he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Yet he drove the usurers from the temple with whips, and called the self-righteous hypocrites. He is the perfect example of justice, mercy, compassion and the perfect protector.

 

Who is actually making war against freedom of speech?

The following speech was excerpted in the most excellent publication IMPRIMIS (Hillsdale College). Kimberley Strassel writes the weekly “Potomac Watch” column for The Wall Street Journal, where she is also a member of the editorial board. A graduate of Princeton University, her previous positions at the Journal include news assistant in Brussels, internet reporter in London, commercial real estate reporter in New York, assistant editorial features editor, columnist for OpinionJournal.com, and senior editorial page writer. In 2013 she served as a Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hillsdale College, and in 2014 she was a recipient of the Bradley Prize. She is the author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech.The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 26, 2017, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.

I like to introduce the topic of free speech with an anecdote about my children. I have three kids, ages twelve, nine, and five. They are your average, normal kids—which means they live to annoy the heck out of each other.

Last fall, sitting around the dinner table, the twelve-year-old was doing a particularly good job at this with his youngest sister. She finally grew so frustrated that she said, “Oliver, you need to stop talking—forever.” This inspired a volley of protests about free speech rights, and ended with them yelling “shut up” at each other. Desperate to stop the fighting and restore order, I asked each of them in turn to tell me what they thought “free speech” meant.

The twelve-year-old went first. A serious and academic child, he gave a textbook definition that included “Congress shall make no law,” an evocation of James Madison, a tutorial on the Bill of Rights, and warnings about “certain exceptions for public safety and libel.” I was happy to know the private-school fees were yielding something.

The nine-year-old went next. A rebel convinced that everyone ignores her, she said that she had no idea what “public safety” or “libel” were, but that “it doesn’t matter, because free speech means there should never be any restrictions on anything that anybody says, anytime or anywhere.” She added that we could all start by listening more to what she says.

Then it was the five-year-old’s turn. You could tell she’d been thinking hard about her answer. She fixed both her brother and sister with a ferocious stare and said: “Free speech is that you can say what you want—as long as I like it.”

It was at this moment that I had one of those sudden insights as a parent. I realized that my oldest was a constitutional conservative, my middle child a libertarian, and my youngest a socialist with totalitarian tendencies.”

The entire text is worth reading if you value freedom. Here is the link. imprimis

US murders concentrated in 5% of counties. Highest legal gun ownership = lowest murder rate. Uh oh…..

The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) said in a new report that there is a “geographical concentration” of murders, with 68 percent of killings occurring in just 5 percent of the nation’s counties. The homicides also tend to be concentrated to relatively small pockets of those counties, the report said.

“It is stunning how concentrated murders are in the U.S.,” John Lott, president of the CPRC said to Fox News. “And we show that even within these counties, with all these high rates, murders are very concentrated.” These high [rate] counties have very large areas where there are no murders.”

Looking at the historical data, the CPRC said that murders were even more geographically concentrated in decades past. On average, 73 percent of counties in any given year had zero murders from 1977 to 2000. Take for example Los Angeles County, which had 526 murders in 2014 — the most of any other county in the U.S. But parts of L.A. County, including Beverly Hills, Hawthorne and Van Nuys, had virtually no murders that year.Indianapolis, Indiana had 135 murders but only four occurred outside of the 465 highway loop that encircles the downtown area. Washington, D.C. has large swaths without a single recorded murder. The study found that murders were overwhelmingly limited to the eastern half of Washington, D.C.

 

One of the most interesting findings in the report is that areas with the highest gun ownership rates have low murder rates.

There, I got through an entire blog post without making my own comments, until this sentence, since it’s interesting stuff on it’s own though except for the previous sentence it’s hard to conclude what it all means (though it is probably no surprise where most murders are concentrated).

ISIS magazine has advice for the bored suburban terrorist wannabe.

Variations of this article appeared in International Business Times, the Daily Mail (U.K.), and other publications. I am both quoting and paraphrasing.

The magazine is called Rumiyah, and is published in 10 languages, making it an equal opportunity shithead attractor. In addition to tutorials on vehicle, knife and arson attacks, they get really creative about how to find victims, urging ISIS followers to use sales websites like Craigslist and eBay to lure unsuspecting victims to their homes before taking them hostage and killing them. The magazine offers a guide on how to select a target and, “lure him to an appropriate location before attacking, subduing, binding and then slaughtering them”.

“The terrorists say their operatives should use: ‘The language of force, the language of killing, stabbing and slitting throats, chopping off heads, flattening them under trucks, and burning them alive, until they give the jizyah [tax] while they are in a state of humiliation.’ The magazine suggests potential targets where hostages could be taken including malls, movie theatres, night clubs, ice-skating rinks, restaurants and college campuses.

“The article continues: ‘It is essential to have a suitable weapon for one’s operation, i.e. a strong, sharp knife, and possibly a bat or a small club that one may use to subdue the victim by striking them over the head before slaugh­tering them.’

“Islamic State has urged lone jihadists to arm themselves with weapons to carry out a ‘campaign of knife attacks’ in quiet neighbourhoods. In the propaganda magazine, ISIS urged would-be jihadists to ‘overcome their squeamishness’ which it said was ‘never an excuse for abandoning jihad’. The terror group made the call in the second edition of magazine Rumiyah, meaning Rome, which was issued by the organisation’s Al-Hayat Media Centre.

According to PJ Media, the article urges would-be jihadists to launch their assaults at night time on random victims in alleys, beaches, forests, and ‘quiet neighbourhoods’, and aim for a ‘reasonable kill count’.”

As much as I like to air my opinions, I will sit this one out. What could I say to condemn this vermin more than their own words? However, the New York Post has one example of a family that took the message of ISIS to heart. In a May 7, 2017 story, they give these idiots their 15 minutes of infamy.

“A British punk rocker-turned-jihadi bride is quickly moving up the charts — of the Pentagon’s terrorist kill list, according to a report. Sally Jones has recently become a ‘high priority’ on the ‘kill list’ of wanted terrorists, the Sunday Times of London reported. Jones, 49, has been implicated in two horrific, but foiled, plots to spill the blood of innocent Americans.

“The first was an attempt to livestream the murder of a US veteran; the second was a plotted mass shooting at a North Carolina concert, the British newspaper reported. Jones also is believed to have joined in a failed plot targeting Queen Elizabeth in 2015, during V-J Day celebrations in London.

“Now Jones, originally from Kent in southeast England, is believed to be in Iraq or Syria, where she hopes to avoid the fate of her late ISIS hubby. The husband, Junaid Hussain, a computer hacker from Birmingham, England, was killed by a US drone in the then-ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, in 2015. Jones and Hussain were celebrities in the ISIS world, with her recruiting women and him ranking high in the caliphate’s technology operations through CyberCalipha.

“Before devoting herself to dark, bloodthirsty ISIS masters, Jones was a guitarist in an all-girl rock band, Krunch. The mother of two might have already poisoned the minds of her two children with sick hatred. Shocking video emerged in August last year of children executing captured Kurds. One of the pint-size terrorists was a young light-skinned boy, who British anti-terrorism cops believe is Jones’ 11-year-old son, who now goes by the name Umm Hussain Britaniyah. Jones now goes by the name of Sakinah Hussain.”

Well, off I go, it’s almost time for lunch. I worked up an appetite thinking about Mr. Husain enjoying the hospitality of Satan. May his bride join him soon!

Willful ignorance: Does the Bible justify violence against women, or does it honor women more than an other scripture?

I think it’s time for me to start living up to the name of my blog. Up until now I have been rather polite for a Curmudgeon, choosing to be amused and rational about the foolishness and ignorance of the apologists for various radical theories and the abominable behavior of their minions. But reading a commentary on a retiring female judge in Great Britain, and especially the interpretation of the judge’s reasonable remarks as a cover for attacking the Bible, has me fed up. I am going to introduce this controversy, and then criticize the motives of this Bible “distorter”!

This headline was in a BBC news item: Retiring judge Lindsey Kushner issues drunk women rape warning. “Lindsey Kushner QC said women were entitled to ‘drink themselves into the ground’ but their ‘disinhibited behaviour’ could put them in danger. Judge Kushner made the courtroom plea as she jailed a man for six years who raped a girl he met in a Burger King in Manchester city centre last year. But, Rape Crisis slammed her comments as ‘outrageous’ and ‘misguided’. Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of Rape Crisis South East, said: ‘As a judge and a woman she should know better. The only person who is responsible for rape, is the rapist. Women are yet again being blamed for rape.’ The judge spoke out as she retired from the criminal bench.” A statistic from the national Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse bears out the judge’s opinion. “Conservative estimates of sexual assault prevalence suggest that 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors. Beliefs about alcohol’s effects on sexual and aggressive behavior, stereotypes about drinking women, and alcohol’s effects on cognitive and motor skills contribute to alcohol-involved sexual assault.

“Judge Kushner, 64, said ‘as a woman judge’ it would ‘be remiss’ if she did not beg women to protect themselves from predatory men who ”gravitate’ towards drunken females. But she said she does not ‘think it’s wrong for a judge to beg woman to take actions to protect themselves’.”

For those of us not pursuing a radical feminist and anti-biblical agenda, the judge’s remarks would be considered quite reasonable. She is not blaming women for rape, but is stating truths that there are predatory men, and that they know that women who are drunk are more vulnerable to rape than women who are sober. Women know this, rapists know this. How this could be twisted to mean that she blames women for rape is beyond me. Well, maybe it isn’t, since the real agenda behind most distortions of truth is to undermine the influence of the Bible, in this case by shifting blame for rape onto the scriptures that honor women above all other religions.

The hypocrisy of blaming the Bible, or trying to have it both ways (minimizing the positive influence and attributing a negative influence that is a lie):

Katie Edwards, director of SIIBS (Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies) at University of Sheffield, describes her position: “My research focuses on the function, impact and influence of the Bible in contemporary culture. I am especially concerned with intersections of gender, race and class in popular cultural reappropriations of biblical characters/narratives.” Sounds like “intersectionality”, the subject of my April 27 post.

Here are some of HER misappropriations of what the Bible teaches: “As a deeply influential cultural document, the Bible has a lot to say when it comes to attitudes around sex, shame and gender identity. Rape is endemic in the Bible (both literally and metaphorically) and, more often than not, functions as a conduit for male competition and a tool to uphold patriarchy.” The first sentence of this screed is an example her hypocrisy. She calls the Bible “a deeply influential cultural document.” The Bible is not merely a cultural document, but by calling it that she can discredit it’s eternal truths (since culture is man made and evolves), while calling it influential in this context allows her to assign it enough power to blame it for misogynistic attitudes. Why is rape (along with every other sin of fallen man) endemic in the Bible (the examples she cites are Old Testament)? Because most of the Bible (especially the OT) is, and was intended to be, the story of how human pride and rebellion has corrupted every good gift from God! There is no greater catalog of sins, including rape, than in the Book of Judges. “And in Judges 21, the Benjaminites are ‘saved from extinction’ through the mass rape of women from Jabesh-gilead and Shiloh.” True, but why? The last sentence of the Book of Judges 21:25 says “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.judges 

Just like you Katie, they did what was right in their own eyes. By saying that rape is a “tool to uphold patriarchy” you reveal your hatred and ignorance of men in general. Rape is the action of sick and perverted men who are aberrations of what most men are in Christianized cultures. I have lived for 70 years and haven’t known a single man attracted to women who has raped or even talks about rape fantasies. That’s not to say there aren’t any, or that I knew what every friend of mine was thinking, but for a general principle it’s more accurate to say that men prefer to treat women well than to abuse them. If you don’t believe that, that says more about you and the men in your life than it does about Men!

Would you also give the Bible credit for the positive cultural influences it has had? What influences? First see the book that follows Judges, the Book of Ruth. It is the opposite of Judges–a study of righteousness. Hey Katie, why don’t you also tell the story of Boaz and Ruth??? ruth Could it be that it doesn’t fit your little theories of perverse Biblical influence? Go and study history, especially back to the Roman Empire, when patriarchy really did rule the world. Both women and children were little more than chattel for men to use and dispose of if they so desired. The Bible and those who truly lived by it introduced the ideas and practices of honoring women and caring for children that we take for granted today in the western world.

Then she goes on to cite lots of other misogyny. “For  example, David’s rape of Bathsheba is echoed in his son Amnon’s rape of half-sister Tamar, and his son Absalom’s rape of David’s ten concubines.” David further compounded his sin by arranging to have Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed, after she was pregnant. Does the Bible give any tacit blessing to his sins? What happened to David’s family as a result of his sin? In 2 Samuel 12:9, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.  For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” (this is the incident that Katie calls Absalom raping David’s concubines). 

How did David the king respond to this frightening prophecy? He said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Check out psalm 51. psalm 51 Remorse, repentance and redemption, that’s how a man who loves God deals with his sin. But that’s a topic for another day.

Now Katie boldly states her “truth”. “A common thread in the biblical text is that women are responsible for maintaining their sexual ‘purity’. This is not in the interests of their own well-being, but to ensure that as male property, women remain ‘undamaged’. This seems to be a no-win situation. The consequence for Dinah, who transgresses social boundaries by going ‘out to meet the women of the land’, is rape.” Katie is leaving out the consequences of rape. Genesis 34: “two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away.  The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister.  They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field.  All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered.” It reads to me like her brothers valued her sexual purity pretty highly!

 “Women who do fulfil feminine ideals, such as Bathsheba, who is described as ‘very beautiful’, tend to attract negative, often violent, male sexual attention. In other words, one way or another, women are constantly implicitly blamed, both in the Bible and in contemporary culture, for their rape.” Is there no end to the willful blindness of the truth? Sexual purity is exactly to a woman’s well-being, as well as a man’s. Male property? Who drives most purchasing decisions? To whom is most advertising directed? Beautiful women tend to attract violent male sexual attention? In what culture? Men are, or at least were (before the hook-up culture), more likely to “bow and scrape” before beautiful women than to rape them. Katie, you are to be pitied. What an ugly fantasy world you and your cohorts inhabit!

Katie then uses certain passages that appear in Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Old Testament bibles but omitted in most Protestant OT bible translations because they are considered apocryphal (hidden). However, they are just more of the same kind of distortions. “In the biblical text, Susanna’s beauty is to blame for attracting the attentions of the elders. In a plotline that’s echoed in today’s court rooms, Susanna’s testimony isn’t believed and her sexual conduct is brought into question. It takes a man, Daniel, to advocate for her and to rescue her from execution after she refuses the elders’ offer. In his successful defence of her and condemnation of the elders, Daniel says: “Beauty has beguiled you and lust has perverted your heart.” Here, as so often in contemporary society, rape and sexual assault are linked to the attractiveness of women rather than a violent crime of power and control. Even in art, Susanna is implicitly blamed for being targeted.”

Daniel is condemning the elders NOT the woman. These so-called elders and their pride and evil were a big reason why the Israelites were taken captive to Babylon and their nation destroyed. Daniel was the very epitome of righteousness in the OT. Katie implies that only a man could save the woman and compares the courtroom of the Babylonian captivity to modern courtrooms. Here is what the passage says: “That year two elders from the people were appointed as judges. Concerning them the Lord had said: Wickedness came forth from Babylon, from elders who were judges, who were supposed to govern the people..….When the people left at noon, Susanna would go into her husband’s garden to walk. Every day the two elders used to see her, going in and walking about, and they began to lust for her. They suppressed their consciences and turned away their eyes from looking to Heaven or remembering their duty to administer justice. Both were overwhelmed with passion for her, but they did not tell each other of their distress, for they were ashamed to disclose their lustful desire to seduce her.” How does Katie twist the obvious and use these words to advance her dubious theories?

Okay Katie, enough of your un-well-intentioned distortions. The Bible now has words for you, who embody the “Jezebel spirit”. What does the Bible say about Jezebel? In 1 Kings 21 she plotted to have a good man killed with lies. jezebel and nabothSo she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, ‘Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people.  And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.’ And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, ‘Naboth cursed God and the king.’ So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, ‘Naboth has been stoned; he is dead’.”

What did God say about Jezebel’s sin? Through the prophet Elijah, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood’.” The Bible minces no words when it comes to the influence of women over men. Ahab was the most evil and abominable king of Israel–and that’s saying something! But his wife, Jezebel, was worse.jezebel and ahab 1 Kings 25: “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.” But when confronted by Elijah about his wickedness, “And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,  ‘Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house’.” Most of the time women have a positive influence on men, and the evil of Jezebel is more the exception than the rule, BUT the issue is one of influence. Women can and do exert influence on men, but in Katie’s world the only influence is inciting their lust, so she and her cohorts can justify their worldview (women as victims of men and patriarchy; men as tyrants and dominators).

No matter what kind of evil a person has done or said, repentance can lead to redemption. In Revelation, via John, God seals the fate of another Jezebel:God’s word about Jezebel Use the link if you want to read it, it is too frightening for me to print.

My final word to Katie and other willfully ignorant distortioners of the Bible are from Jesus himself, Matthew 18:7. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” Radical liars are merely fulfilling their job descriptions, but believers who meekly accept the distortions and lies about our Lord and his Word allow lies to flourish! I say enough! “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Mark 14