"Exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
Greetings. Peter, in the book of 1 Peter, verses eight through ten, commented, concerning his fellow believers who had not personally seen and been with Jesus as he had, by saying: "Whom (Jesus) having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you."
We, of course should have the same attitude and mindset as the early Church. (A body of believers- not a building!) Nothing has changed. If you have access to a Bible concordance you may find it interesting to see just how many verses in the Bible contain the word "rejoice".
As world events continue to unfold at an unprecented pace, and we can see the storm clouds gathering, which will eventually consummate in the "Great Tribulation" we should always continue to rejoice in God our Saviour, as we remember that; "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."(Matthew 24:29-30)
As it has been often said, "The sooner things get worse, the sooner they are going to get better, much better."
We hope the following articles will be a blessing to you. The majority of the articles we are including, we hope to relate to endtime events, as forecast in the Bible.
Bali-Hoo: U.N Still Pushing for Global Environmental Control
(Condensed from longer article.)
February 25, 2010
By George Russell
Despite the debacle of the failed Copenhagen climate change conference last December, the United Nations is pressing full speed ahead with a plan for a greatly expanded system of global environmental governance and for a multitrillion-dollar economic transfer scheme to ignite the creation of a "global green economy."
In other words: Copenhagen without the authority -- yet -- of Copenhagen.
The world body even has chosen a time and a place for the culmination of the process: a World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the 20th anniversary of the famed "Earth Summit" that gave focus and urgency to the world environmentalist movement.
The 2012 summit date is significant for another reason: It marks the end of the legal term of agreement for the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, which includes carbon reduction targets, and provided the legal basis for an international cap-and-trade market for carbon, centered in Europe. The U.S. first signed then backed away from the Kyoto deal without ratifying it; until its apparent collapse, the comprehensive Copenhagen deal was intended to include the U.S. and supplant Kyoto with a new, legally binding regime.
The new Rio summit will end, according to U.N. documents obtained by Fox News, with a "focused political document" presumably laying out the framework and international commitments to a new Green World Order.
But the major topics are a global system of governance and what amounts to the next stage of a radical transformation of the world economic and social order, in the name of saving the planet.
Alongside that, as always, are discussions of vast sums of money that should flow to developing nations to help them make the transition to the new, greener world. As one of the papers written in advance of the meeting to "stimulate discussion" puts it, "the situation ... presents genuine opportunities for a dramatic shift from what can be termed 'business as usual.'"
The new green economy under discussion at Bali will be something very different: For starters, it is much more vague, and as far as the discussion paper authors are concerned, it will stay that way.
The paper paints the coming green order in nebulous and utopian terms. It "implies the decoupling of resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth." It involves "substantially increased investment in green sectors, supported by enabling policy reforms." The investments will "provide the mechanism for the reconfiguration of businesses, infrastructure and institutions, and for adoption of sustainable consumption and production processes." It will lead to "more green and decent jobs, reduced energy and material intensities in production processes, less waste and pollution, and significantly reduced greenhouse-gas emissions."
But when it comes to measuring the achievement of those goals, the paper says, "it is counter-productive to develop generic green economy indicators applicable to all countries given differences in natural, human and economic resources." In the process of turning brown to green, "a green economy in one country may look quite dissimilar to a green economy in another country."
All of which may make judging the value of investment in the ecological transformation difficult to evaluate, except for insiders. But then, the paper suggests that the world may have an additional governing structure composed of exactly those insiders. As the paper puts it:
"Moving towards a green economy would also provide an opportunity to re-examine national and global governance structures and consider whether such structures allow the international community to respond to current and future environmental and development challenges and to capitalize on emerging opportunities."
The discussion paper, published -- but not distributed -- on Dec. 14, 2009, assumes that the goal of the green economic transformation is the same as that of the ill-fated Copenhagen conference: a 50 percent reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. That, the paper says, will require a staggering $45 trillion dollar to accomplish -- much of it in transfers from rich nations to poorer ones.
But above all, the paper asserts, the focus on ecological transformation must become all-encompassing if it is to succeed. Quoting from UNEP's formal medium-term strategy for 2010 to 2013, it says that "linkages between environmental sustainability and the economy will emerge as a key focus for public policymaking and a determinant of future market opportunities."
In other words, the green economy requires a green-oriented political revolution. As UNEP's medium-term strategy puts it: "The current environmental challenges and opportunities will cause the environment to move from often being considered a marginal issue at the intergovernmental and national levels to the center of political and economic decision-making."
The authors of the UNEP "discussion" papers see that organization -- the U.N.'s principal environmental watchdog -- and especially its governing "Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum," as the central nexus of that new eco-centric regime -- and that strengthening its authority at both the national and international levels will be a growing theme as the 2012 Rio Conference looms nearer.
In all of this, it appears, the 2012 Rio Conference on Sustainable Development and the preliminary meetings that will determine its agenda is intended to play an important role in focusing attention on the agenda being discussed at Bali, and in creating the suggested frameworks of future "international governance." Above all, the planned Rio summit will be a framework that welds together the UNEP framework of environmentalism with the U.N.'s traditional anti-poverty agenda -- which also involves huge investment transfers to poor countries from rich ones.
In a press release announcing the negotiating round, Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which manages the Copenhagen negotiating process, declared that "this constitutes a quick return to the negotiations" -- and a continuing determination to put a new treaty in place as the capstone of the Green World Order.
But at the same time, he made clear that a deal by the end of the year is unlikely; 2011 is more feasible.
The first major preparatory meetings for the Rio summit in 2012 will be held at U.N. headquarters in New York City in mid-May.
George Russell is executive editor of Fox News.
(And in case you haven't seen these commercials...)
From Times Online
'Buy farmland and gold,' advises Dr Doom
Leo Lewis, Asia Business Correspondent
February 22, 2010
The world's most powerful investors have been advised to buy farmland, stock up on gold and prepare for a "dirty war" by Marc Faber, the notoriously bearish market pundit, who predicted the 1987 stock market crash.
The bleak warning of social and financial meltdown, delivered today in Tokyo at a gathering of 700 pension and sovereign wealth fund managers.
Dr Faber, who advised his audience to pull out of American stocks one week before the 1987 crash and was among a handful who predicted the more recent financial crisis, vies with the Nouriel Roubini, the economist, as a rival claimant for the nickname Dr Doom.
Speaking today, Dr Faber said that investors, who control billions of dollars of assets, should start considering the effects of more disruptive events than mere market volatility.
"The next war will be a dirty war," he told fund managers: "What are you going to do when your mobile phone gets shut down or the internet stops working or the city water supplies get poisoned?"
His investment advice, which was the first keynote speech of CLSA's annual investment forum in Tokyo, included a suggestion that fund managers buy houses in the countryside because it was more likely that violence, biological attack and other acts of a "dirty war" would happen in cities.
He also said that they should consider holding part of their wealth in the form of precious metals "because they can be carried".
One London-based hedge fund manager described Mr Faber's address as "excellent, chilling stuff: good at putting you off lunch, but not something I can tell clients asking me about quarterly returns at the end of March".
Dr Faber did offer a few more traditional investment tips, although their theme fitted his general mode of pessimism.
In Asia, particularly, he said, stock pickers should play on future food and water shortages by buying into companies with exposure to agriculture and water treatment technologies.
One of Dr Faber's darker scenarios involves growing military tension between China and the United States over access to limited oil resources.
Today the US has a considerable advantage over China because it has free access to oceans on both coasts, and has potential energy suppliers to the north and south in Canada and Mexico.
It also commands an 11-strong fleet of aircraft carriers that could, if necessary, secure supply routes in a conflict situation.
China and emerging Asia, meanwhile, face the uncertainty of supplies that must travel from the Middle East through winding sea lanes and the Malacca bottleneck.
American military presence in Central Asia, Dr Faber said, may add to the level of concern in Beijing.
"When I tell people to prepare themselves for a dirty war, they ask me: "America against whom?" I tell them that for sure they will find someone."
At the heart of Dr Faber's argument is a fundamentally gloomy view on the US economy and its capacity to service a growing mountain of debt.
His belief, fund managers were told, is that the US is going to go bankrupt.
Under President Obama, he said, the country's annual fiscal deficit will not drop below $1 trillion and could rise beyond that figure.
Arch bears have predicted that US debt repayments could hit 35 per cent of tax revenues within ten years.
Dr Faber believes that the ratio could easily hit 50 per cent in the same time frame.
Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse To Allow Withdrawals
Feb. 19, 2010
The image of banks locking their doors to keep customers from making withdrawals during a bank run is what immediately came to mind when we heard that Citigroup was telling customers it has the right to prevent any withdrawals from checking accounts for seven days.
"Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change," Citigroup said on statements received by customers all over the country.
What's going on? It seems that this is something of an error. The seven day notice policy only applies to customers in Texas, Ira Stoll reports at The Future of Capitalism. It was accidentally included on customer statements nationwide.
"Whatever the explanation, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Citi," Stoll writes. "But it's hard to believe a bank would be sending out a notice like that on its statements."
UPDATE: According to Stoll, Citi issued a statement saying that it has been required to make this change by Federal regulations--and it no longer sounds like it's limited to Texas:
Update: Citibank has now released the following statement by way of explanation: "When Citibank moved to unlimited FDIC coverage in 2009, we had to reclassify many checking accounts to allow for immediate withdrawals in order to ensure all customers qualified for the additional coverage. When we moved back to standard FDIC coverage with most major banks in 2010, Citibank decided to reclassify those accounts back to make them eligible again for promotional incentives. To do so, Federal Reserve Reg D requires these accounts, called NOW accounts, to reserve the right to require a 7-day notice of withdrawal. We recently communicated this technical requirement to our customers. However, we have never exercised this right and have no plans to do so in the future."
Nearly 25% of all mortgages are underwater
By Les Christie, staff writer
February 24, 2010
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- More bad news on the housing bust front: Nearly 25% of all mortgage borrowers were underwater, meaning they owe more on their loans than their homes are worth.
First American CoreLogic, the research firm that monitors housing equity, reported Tuesday that 11.3 million homeowners -- or 24% of all homes with mortgages -- were underwater as of the end of 2009. That's up from 23% and 10.7 million borrowers three month earlier.
Nevada was the state with the worst record at 70% of all mortgaged properties underwater. That was followed by Arizona (51%), Florida (48%), Michigan (39%) and California (35%).
For many homeowners, being underwater, also known as negative equity, has few consequences. If they're not planning to sell and can afford their monthly bills, they can wait out the downturn.
For others, however, plunging underwater can spell disaster. If they become unemployed or have a financial emergency, they have no equity to tap. Or, if they need to downsize or sell their home to relocate for a job, they can't.
"Negative equity is a significant drag on both the housing market and on economic growth,"said Mark Fleming, chief economist with First American CoreLogic. "It is driving foreclosures and decreasing mobility for millions of homeowners."
Traditionally, being underwater was one of two main factors in determining a borrower's likelihood of foreclosure. The other is having sufficient income to pay bills. But, there's an increasingly important exception: strategic default. As equity gets more and more negative, some homeowners are choosing to quit paying and give the keys to the bank.
As long as negative equity remains a big problem, it will be difficult to stem the tide of foreclosures that continue to plague many local real estate markets around the nation.
"Since we expect home prices to slightly increase during 2010, negative equity will remain the dominant issue in the housing and mortgage markets for some time to come," said Fleming.
Banks at risk of going bust tops 700
The number of lenders on the FDIC's watch list continued to mount as banks grapple with loan troubles.
By David Ellis, staff writer
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- More than 700 banks, or nearly one out of every 11, are at risk of going under, according to a government report published Tuesday.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said that the number of banks on its so-called "problem list" climbed to 702, its highest level since June 1993.
The number of banks under scrutiny by regulators has moved steadily higher since the recession began. Just 76 financial institutions were on the list in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Banks that end up on the problem list are considered the most likely to fail because of difficulties with their finances, operations or management.
Still, few of the lenders that are on the list actually reach the point of failure. In fact, just 13% of banks on the list have been seized and shuttered by regulators.
The names of the banks on the list are never made available to the general public by regulators out of fear that depositors at those institutions may prompt a so-called "run on the bank."
Banks have been hit hard by the troubles in the broader economy. Nearly a third of the more than 8,000 lenders across the country reported a loss for the year, the FDIC reported Tuesday.
But FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair acknowledged that while lenders are still grappling with rising losses and delinquent customers, the industry has managed to stage a dramatic comeback over the past year.
Banks collectively reported a relatively small profit of $914 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. During the fourth quarter of 2008, banks lost a combined $32.1 billion.
"Usually a lack of profits is not considered a good result, but compared to the record loss the industry reported a year ago it represents a significant improvement," she said during a press conference Tuesday.
But there is no indication things will improve anytime soon for the country's top banking regulator. With the FDIC having shuttered 20 banks so far this year, it is on track to seize at least as many financial institutions, if not more, as it did in 2009. Last year, the FDIC shut down a total of 140 lenders nationwide.
Bair confirmed that the pace of bank failures would pick up this year, which would likely put a further strain on the agency's deposit insurance fund.
This fund, which covers customer deposits when a bank fails, slipped into red last fall for the first time since 1991. The fund's deficit continued to balloon in the fourth quarter to nearly $21 billion - its largest deficit on record.
Last year, the agency took a variety of steps to help shore up the fund, including imposing a special assessment on all banks and having lenders prepay their insurance premiums for the next three years.
Bair said Tuesday that these steps, combined with some improvement in the sector, should mean that the fund will be able to handle further bank failures.
"Assuming we don't have a significantly more adverse scenario than most people think, I think we will be in good shape this year and we will start seeing the deposit insurance fund balance go back up toward the end of the year," she said.
Survey: Most Americans believe government broken
February 22, 2010
Washington (CNN) -- Americans overwhelmingly believe that the government is broken, according to a national poll released Sunday.
But the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey also indicates that the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.
Eighty-six percent of people questioned say that the system of government is broken, with 14 percent saying no.
Of the 86 percent, 81 percent say that the government can be fixed, but 5 percent say it's beyond repair.
The percentage of Americans who believe the government is broken has increased by eight points since 2006.
"That increase is highest among higher-income Americans and people who live in rural areas," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director. "Maybe it's just a coincidence, but those are the groups that make up the bulk of the Tea Party activists today."
The Financial Times
The Euro Will Face Bigger Tests Than Greece
By George Soros
The Financial Times
Otmar Issing, one of the fathers of the euro, correctly states the principle on which the single currency was founded. As he wrote in the FT last week, the euro was meant to be a monetary union but not a political one. Participating states established a common central bank but refused to surrender the right to tax their citizens to a common authority. This principle was enshrined in the Maastricht treaty and has since been rigorously interpreted by the German constitutional court. The euro was a unique and unusual construction whose viability is now being tested.
The construction is patently flawed. A fully fledged currency requires both a central bank and a Treasury. The Treasury need not be used to tax citizens on an everyday basis but it needs to be available in times of crisis. When the financial system is in danger of collapsing, the central bank can provide liquidity, but only a Treasury can deal with problems of solvency. This is a well-known fact that should have been clear to everyone involved in the creation of the euro. Mr Issing admits that he was among those who believed that "starting monetary union without having established a political union was putting the cart before the horse".
The European Union was brought into existence by putting the cart before the horse: setting limited but politically attainable targets and timetables, knowing full well that they would not be sufficient and require further steps in due course. But for various reasons the process gradually ground to a halt. The EU is now largely frozen in its present shape.
The same applies to the euro. The crash of 2008 revealed the flaw in its construction when members had to rescue their banking systems independently. The Greek debt crisis brought matters to a climax. If member countries cannot take the next steps forward, the euro may fall apart.
The original construction of the euro postulated that members would abide by the limits set by Maastricht. But previous Greek governments egregiously violated those limits. The government of George Papandreou, elected last October with a mandate to clean house, revealed that the budget deficit reached 12.7 per cent in 2009, shocking both the European authorities and the markets.
The European authorities accepted a plan that would reduce the deficit gradually with a first instalment of 4 per cent, but markets were not reassured. The risk premium on Greek government bonds continues to hover around 3 per cent, depriving Greece of much of the benefit of euro membership. If this continues, there is a real danger that Greece may not be able to extricate itself from its predicament whatever it does. Further budget cuts would further depress economic activity, reducing tax revenues and worsening the debt-to-GNP ratio. Given that danger, the risk premium will not revert to its previous level in the absence of outside assistance.
The situation is aggravated by the market in credit default swaps, which is biased in favour of those who speculate on failure. Being long CDS, the risk automatically declines if they are wrong. This is the opposite of selling short stocks, where being wrong the risk automatically increases. Speculation in CDS may drive the risk premium higher.
Recognising the need, the last Ecofin meeting of EU finance ministers for the first time committed itself "to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole". But they have not yet found a mechanism for doing it because the present institutional arrangements do not provide one - although Article 123 of the Lisbon treaty establishes a legal basis for it. The most effective solution would be to issue jointly and severally guaranteed eurobonds to refinance, say, 75 per cent of the maturing debt as long as Greece meets its targets, leaving Athens to finance the rest of its needs as best it can. This would significantly reduce the cost of financing and it would be the equivalent of the International Monetary Fund disbursing conditional loans in tranches.
But this is politically impossible at present because Germany is adamantly opposed to serving as the deep pocket for its profligate partners. Therefore makeshift arrangements will have to be found.
The Papandreou government is determined to correct the abuses of the past and it enjoys remarkable public support. There have been mass protests and resistance from the old guard of the governing party, but the public seems ready to accept austerity as long as it sees progress in correcting budgetary abuses- and there are plenty of abuses to allow progress.
So makeshift assistance should be enough for Greece, but that leaves Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. Together they constitute too large a portion of euroland to be helped in this way. The survival of Greece would still leave the future of the euro in question. Even if it handles the current crisis, what about the next one? It is clear what is needed: more intrusive monitoring and institutional arrangements for conditional assistance. A well-organised eurobond market would be desirable. The question is whether the political will for these steps can be generated.
The writer is chairman of Soros Fund Management and author of the Soros Lectures, published by PublicAffairs this month
Do Our Organs Have Memories?
Feb 21, 2010
Transplant patients sometimes take on part of their donors' personalities.
Glenda lost her husband, David, in a car crash. She made his organs available for transplant. A few years later, as part of a study by neuropsychologist Paul Pearsall, she met the young Spanish-speaking man who had received her late husband's heart. Filled with emotion, Glenda asked if she could lay her hand on his chest. "I love you, David," she said. "Everything's copacetic."
The young man's mother, also present, was startled. "My son uses that word now," she said. "He never said it before his heart transplant. I don't know that word; it doesn't exist in Spanish. But it was the first thing he said after the operation."
Her son appeared to have changed in other ways too. Before, he had been a health-conscious vegetarian; now he craved meat and greasy food. He had loved heavy metal music; now he played nothing but fifties rock 'n' roll. Glenda's husband had been an ardent meat-lover and played in a rock 'n' roll band.
Does the heart have a memory? Is part of an organ donor's personality also transferred to the recipient in a transplant? Yes, contends Pearsall in his book The Heart's Code, which provides other remarkable examples of transplanted hearts with memories.
An 8-year-old girl received the heart of a 10-year-old girl who had been murdered. The recipient ended up at a psychiatrist's office, plagued by nightmares about her donor's murderer. She said she knew who the man was. After a few sessions, the psychiatrist decided to notify the police. Following the girl's instructions, they tracked down the murderer. The man was convicted on evidence she had provided the first clues about: the time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he wore, what his victim told him. Everything the girl said turned out to be true.
Pearsall's book is based on 73 heart-transplant cases in which parts of the donors' personalities appear to have been transferred to the recipients.
Pearsall argues that the brain is not the only centre of human intelligence. The heart, he says, carries equal importance. He posits that the body is made up of cells that transmit "information." Cells communicate this information to each other electromagnetically. Thus a transplanted organ can continue to broadcast old information, something like amputees' experience of pain in lost limbs. Phenomena like these suggest cells have memories.
Critics deny the existence of proof that memories can be transplanted along with organs, and fear such assertions will cause donor numbers to fall. Some non-believers attribute personality changes in transplant recipients to the heavy drugs they must take to prevent organ rejection.
But what should we make of the documented story of an 8-year-old Jewish boy who died in a car wreck? His death was the salvation of a 3-year-old Arab girl with a dangerous heart condition. As soon as the girl woke up from the anaesthesia after surgery, she asked by name for a type of Jewish candy she could not have known existed.
Pearsall's book raises fascinating questions that shake the foundations of science.
(For more information regarding this topic see "Not Of This World" in the editorial archives.)
Halo II: Mystery cloud returns
THIS mysterious cloud halo has been spotted over Mexico -- sparking fears of an Independence Day style alien attack.
The astonishing ring was spotted over the central American state and video of it was posted on the internet -- prompting speculation its cause was extra-terrestrial.
It is the SECOND time such an amazing sighting has been seen -- after The Sun revealed one was recorded in skies over Moscow last October.
Scores of supernatural enthusiasts have been gripped by the astonishing footage and speculated it could be an ALIEN MOTHERSHIP.
Others believe it could be a porthole for UFOs to enter or leave the Earth's atmosphere.
Or that a meteorite pierced through a cloud before crashing to Earth.
The sighting in the clouds is reminiscent of scenes from the 1996 Hollywood blockbuster Independence Day.
The circular white cloud was filmed against a blue sky was taken in Mexico on February 11 according to the YouTube post.
A message on the video sharing website reads: "Amazing footage shows what may have been a UFO entering or leaving our Earth."
It has been described as a "true mystery" by a UFO expert Nick Pope - who investigated the phenomena for the Ministry of Defence.
He added: "It's amazing. The similarity with the so-called halo cloud seen recently over Russia is striking. One possibility is that a meteorite or fireball punched through the cloud.
"This could explain the strange sound reported and the fact that a crater was apparently found.
First sighting ... Moscow halo
"Speculation is rife on the internet - aliens, secret weather modification technology, or even some distortion of reality, caused by the Large Hadron Collider."
Even weather experts have been left dumbfounded by the extraordinary sighting.
A Met office investigator examined the freak sighting and said its cause is "unknown".
Sarah Holland, Met Office spokesman, said: "This is what is called a fallstreak cloud, otherwise known as a holepunch cloud.
"It's where patches of high cloud formed by super-cooled water freeze and fall away as ice crystals leaving a visible gap in the cloud layer.
"Aircraft exhausts could play a part in the freezing process but the precise cause is unknown."
Video of the Moscow halo became an internet sensation attracting more than a MILLION hits.
However Russian weather experts claimed it may have been due to several weather fronts colliding over Moscow.
Christianity and Avatar
By John J. Dwyer, February 24, 2010
Right-wingers always relishing someone with whom to fight--here and abroad--are responding to James Cameron's epic, Oscar-favored film Avatar with disgust, as I suspected they would. I concur, meanwhile, with the view of a mature and theologically sound evangelical campus minister friend: "I was rooting for the natives."
Do I believe Cameron is off base with the pagan animism he evinces in Avatar, and headed for hell personally unless he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes. It is tragic that so gifted and passionate an artist is not imbued with the love of God; his talents could create an enormous platform for him to deliver Christ-honoring messages. But alas, God does not usually choose to work through such folks, does He? "Not many wise...powerful...noble," and all that.
So I support discussions of Avatar that enfold Cameron's "religion" and its flaws and dangers. That being said, recent attacks by professing believers--some of them Christians working in or around the motion picture industry--accusing the film of being "Anti-America, Anti-Military" announce the speakers' own cultural and nationalistic idolatry, if not their ignorance of the gospel itself. Of course, if a Christian chooses Fox News, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter books, and National Review magazine as their primary news sources, they'll be surprised to learn that our country's "military-industrial complex"--to use the famous words of that war hero and Republican President Dwight Eisenhower--has for generations acted as Cameron depicts it in Avatar.
Conservatives who deny the undeniable truth of our (often "well-intentioned") violent, rapacious, money- and power-fueled imperialistic behavior all over the globe are--well, they need some good teaching of the true "Christian history" sort. We should be thankful Cameron did not make Stephen Lang's villainous character in Avatar a Bible-spouting fundamentalist, as so many of our "noble warriors" actually are. (I was particularly struck by the recent story of a leading American arms manufacturer engraving Bible verses inside the barrels of the guns it made to kill people with.)
Christians moan and groan over the Church's ineffectual impact on the world in general and our country in particular. Christians who make (tax-deductible) money off other Christians moan the loudest about it. But ... those spouting "Anti-America, Anti-Military" epithets about Avatar--and other recent films that criticized our tragic attack on Iraq--behave as stubborn, stiff-necked fools, and place themselves in the perilous role of opposing the Christian gospel of peace, humility, gentleness, purity, sacrifice, suffering, repentance, reconciliation, and redemption. So far as they labor in that direction, they act as enemies of Jesus--not because they criticize non-Christian films, but because of the unbiblical views they hold that animate this portion of their criticism.
Let us criticize those aspects of James Cameron's work--and anyone else's--that fall short of Scriptural precepts. And let us learn from such work when it casts light on our own blindness. We Christians who elect and re-elect warmongering politicians; who sacrifice our sons to serve as hired killers for Caesar; who confuse and terrify a watching world of unbelievers as we baptize our brutal military colossus with Christian symbols, imagery, song, and emotion; who cow our own pulpits into silence when they should be aflame with holy zeal and jealousy for God over such wicked idolatry--we are the villains of Avatar.
Christians should be men and women enough to own up to our shortcomings and assess where we need work to become more conformed to the image of Christ (Isn't that what we teach our children and grandchildren?), even when God chooses to use His enemies and ours to teach us some of those lessons. After all, He was no friend of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, or Romans, as is evidenced by "Where are they now?" But He used them all in His sovereign, Providential plan for sanctifying His people.
As I wrote seven years--and a couple of wars--ago, it is past time for the followers of Jesus Christ to put down our M-16s and to go forth into all the world with John 3:16 as soldiers of the cross and not Caesar.
John J. Dwyer serves as Adjunct Professor of History at Southern Nazarene University and Oklahoma City Community College.
Begin's grandson: 'murderous blood flows in Israeli arteries'
By pt editor Maysaa Jarour
Palestine, February 13, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) - "Murderous blood flows in Israeli arteries," says the grandson of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Avindav Begin, who is also the son of the current Likud Knesset member Benny Begin, refuses to stand during the Israeli national anthem "Hatikva" and participates in protests against the Apartheid Wall. He does not see himself as a Jew or a Zionist and believes that his grandfather did not make real peace with Egypt. He also is not worried about being the target of rotten eggs after his inflammatory interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot.
The newspaper said in a lengthy report: "(Avindav) Begin examines the psychological roots of the Jewish-Arab conflict in his new book 'End the Conflict,' which was published recently in both Hebrew and Arabic. He suggests a radical solution to spare all religious, national and ideological sectors, encouraging everyone to live together as human beings. Despite being brought up in a very nationalistic family, and perhaps for this reason, he did not agree with the theories of his father and grandfather. - - The newspaper asked him:
Do you raise Israel's flag on its independence day?
I do not raise any flag, either the flag of Israel or the flag of Palestine.
Do you stand when they sing "Hatikva"? - No, because it makes no sense in my view.
Why do you live in Israel, then? - My family, sisters and brothers and friends are here.
How do you feel about the 700 people who were killed in the 1982 war that was initiated by Israel and led by your grandfather?
There were actually 30,000 Lebanese and Palestinians killed, mostly unarmed people who cannot be compared with Israeli soldiers because the people did not fight at all. I think that there is no need for any war, including the War of Nov. 6, 1973.
Do you think that the conflict will continue?
I protest in Bil'in (in the West Bank) because I reside here, not in Kosovo, it is one hour from my house. I want to remove the wall and bring Arnit back to farm his field. (After reading an advertisement on the Internet, Begin joined a protest four years ago near the Apartheid Wall in Bil'in and established a close relationship with Wajeyh Arnit, a father of 10 children and a contractor who worked in Israel. His son Rani was paralyzed by a bullet fired by Israeli troops.)
Are Ezekiel prophecies on the horizon?
The leader of a Messianic Jewish ministry believes a couple of biblical prophecies dealing with wars in the Middle East could come to fruition within the next five years.
As previously reported on OneNewsNow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently proclaimed the fulfillment of the Ezekiel 37 prophecy of the dry bones coming to life, which alludes to the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. - - While many biblical scholars speculate about the next two chapters of Ezekiel, as well as the war of Gog and Magog, Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, believes some other prophecies are likely to precede that cataclysmic end-times event.
"Frankly I believe 2010 is going to see some of the predicted wars that have not yet happened," she comments. "I do think that the Psalm 83 war could take place in 2010." - - That passage references the destruction of Israel's enemies who desire to cut Israel off from being a nation, and a passage in Isaiah talks about the destruction of Damascus. - - "Isaiah 17 says there is coming a time when Damascus will be leveled, and that probably could be sooner rather than later, in that Syria is stirring up so much trouble --and we really think that 2010, certainly by 2011, there's going to be a major spark flying," Markell predicts. - - The ministry founder notes that it is impossible to predict the exact dates for these events, but she believes the clock is ticking toward some volatile times in the Middle East.
The Story Behind an Odd Contract Demand from Rock Band Van Halen
Christianity Today, drawn from Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto (Metropolitan Books, 2009)
Many of us have heard about some of the outlandish demands made by music celebrities in their contracts with concert promoters. One of the most notorious came from the rock band Van Halen. Each contract insisted that "a bowl of M&M's be provided backstage, but with every single brown M&M removed." If the band arrived and saw that the bowl had any brown M&Ms in it, they were free to cancel the concert and receive full payment. Who knew a bunch of hard-rockers could be such divas?
There was actually a good reason behind the clause. The absence of those M&Ms was a matter of life or death. In his book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande, quoting from lead singer David Lee Roth's memoir, shares the story behind the M&Ms:
Roth explained [that] ... "Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We'd pull up with nine 18-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors--whether it was the girders couldn't support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren't big enough to move the gear through. The contract rider read like a ... Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function." So just as a little test, buried somewhere in the middle of the rider, would be Article 126, the no-brown-M&Ms clause. "When I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl," [Roth] wrote, "well, we'd line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem." The mistakes could be life-threatening ... In Colorado, the band found that the local promoters had failed to read the weight requirements and that the staging would have fallen through the arena floor.
It's funny how Van Halen's ridiculous-at-first-glance contract demand manages to illustrate well Luke 16:10: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."
Of course one of the things that should really cause us to smile is the same thing Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 10:20, " Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Is it even possible to really rejoice without smiling? Paul got to the heart of the matter in 1Timothy, chapter one, verse fifteen, when he said; "Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
If we know Jesus, we have a wonderful future before us. Things we can't even imagine are waiting for us. (1 Corinthians 2:9, John 14:2-3)
If you do not know Jesus and your future is uncertain, you can change that right now by just accepting Jesus into your life. He is waiting for you, to invite Him in. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
Just open the door to your heart and life and invite Him in, by praying this simple prayer; "Jesus, I ask you to please come into my heart, forgive me my sins, give me eternal life, so that I can live with you in your Kingdom forever. Amen."
We invite you to write us via the web site with any questions you may have. If you would like to also contact one of our Christian mystics we would also encourage you to do so. We really enjoy hearing from you.
Until next week...
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation."