Lessons Learned from Chris Pratt Praying for Kevin Smith

chris pratt
Photo of actor Chris Pratt from a 2015 article published by Elle Magazine

Earlier today, I read an article at Aish.com called Chris Pratt, Keep Praying or “When did prayer become a dirty word?” by Rabbi Jack Abramowitz.

You probably know actor Chris Pratt from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Jurassic World or even the television show Parks and Recreation. In addition to his success in the world of entertainment, he’s a Christian, which must be tough in the world of entertainment.

He came to garner a special type of attention though when he “tweeted” on twitter that he would be praying for actor/director Kevin Smith after the latter’s recent heart attack.

As far as I can tell on both Pratt’s and Smith’s twitter feeds, Smith never responded to Pratt’s well wishes, but plenty of other people did, and not very kindly.

According to Rabbi Abramowitz’s article, some of the “Twitterati” issued the following responses:

  • Doctors and nurses save lives, not prayer.
  • There is NO proof there is a higher power. Zilch.
  • We all know God isn’t real.
  • Praying is utterly worthless. Just an easy way to pat yourself on the back while making you warm and fuzzy inside by actually thinking your prayers affect the plan of a divine sky daddy that’s supposedly omnicient (sic) and omnipotent.
  • Thank the surgeons and modern medicine. Your magical sky fairy had nothing to do with it I assure you.
  • A claim that prayer heals is dangerous. It results in needless deaths every year around the globe.

R. Abramowitz’s article continues:

In fairness, there were many who came to Pratt’s defense, including screenwriter and director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), who wrote, “There is nothing wrong with sending someone positive thoughts & prayers. But when this is coupled with inaction when action will benefit the situation, it’s empty. … (N)o one expects Chris Pratt to shoulder doctors out of the way and perform heart surgery on Kevin Smith. Nor does Kevin need Chris to pay his medical bills. So I think his prayers are appreciated, and about all he can do.”

Gunn gets it. It’s one thing to object to “thoughts and prayers” when it’s in lieu of action. But if “thoughts and prayers” are all one has to offer, then objecting to it is nothing more than a mean-spirited attack on another person’s faith.

Beyond this core point which pretty much says it all in terms of a response to the online anti-prayer pundits, the Rabbi went into the Jewish basis for prayer which may or may not particularly resonate with Pratt.

What can I say that can add anything to what R. Abramowitz wrote? Probably not much except that this is merely the latest (cheap) shot anti-religious and generally leftists folks have taken at people of faith. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t agree with you” or “I don’t believe in God” and another thing entirely for people to become angry because you express your faith in a kind and supportive manner.

It seems, referring back to the bulleted list above, Pratt’s critics jumped from A to Z assuming he meant that only prayer could heal and that there was no need for doctors, which is a position only some very sketchy edge cases in fundamental Christianity espouse.

There have been men and women of faith ever since the Garden and for nearly as long, there have been critics who have discounted that faith. If you don’t believe, fine and dandy, but again looking at the bulleted list, why all the anger?

I don’t know if Pratt has read R. Abramowitz’s missive and I’m pretty sure he’ll never know mine exists, but if I could say something to him, I’d tell him “thank you,” even if Kevin Smith didn’t.

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82 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Chris Pratt Praying for Kevin Smith”

  1. …and generally leftists folks …

    James,
    Why bring partisan political ideology into this?
    Surely the term “anti-religious” was a more than sufficient description of those expressing antagonism without inferring that a particular political stance (rightist) would be less likely to object to prayer.

    Both “wings” of the political divide are often equally Godless.

  2. Pray moves God Almighty who chose it to be that way, to heal and deliver…precisely not prayer only, because faith without action is dead, if they is need of acting or operation/ surgery that should be done

  3. Onesimus…a Rabbi who doesn’t believe in G-d and broadcasts the notion to the world is radically left of the norm.

    James, it seems that not only a sneeze is not to be blessed anymore…we are not supposed to well wish anyone in religious terms…until of course the AntiChrist shows up, with his list of do’s and don’ts.

    I wonder, had Pratt prayed for the doctors to do their work well, would that have been acceptable…or is the problem really the idea of reaching out to a real G-d? Like people don’t do that in Judaism?

  4. @Onesimus — Regrettably, it has been folks of “leftist” persuasion who have been in the forefront of deliberate denial of the religious rights inherent in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The folks thus attacked are generally of the “rightist” persuasion. It is the same leftist deconstructionism that opposes the citizen empowerment expressed in the second amendment of that selfsame document. It is the rightists who insist on maintaining such rights, in all these amendments, even if they seem occasionally inconvenient. Also regrettable is a tendency to decouple these rights from their inherent responsibilities, which is, perhaps, where we see an impact of widespread godlessness that overshadows all sides of the political and social discourse.

  5. I read Rabbi Abramowitz’s article at Aish.com, in order to see the additional material about a “Jewish basis for prayer”, with which I agreed (understandably) and found to resonate also with Yacov’s comments in Jam.2:14-26, which address the opposite emphasis that action is just as needful as faith, both of which work together. I also found there a short-sighted comment to which I replied, as follows:.

    [skeptical commenter]:
    No need to say it on social media if you are doing it. Broadcasting it to others is self-serving. Pray for another. God and all His Oneness, will hear you. That’s enough.

    [PL]:
    You’re neglecting the comforting and encouraging effect to others, particularly the subject of these prayers and well-wishes, that may be distributed via social media. That’s not self-serving, as if one should expect to be commended for compassion or for relating to G-d. G-d may not be the only One Who may be listening and responding.

    I suppose I could have elaborated by comparing Pratt’s “tweet” to a get-well card or flowers sent to a hospital room, which both the patient and his visitors get to see. It’s just that these may be less overt in conveying to the casual observer a religious reference, presumed to be encouraging rather than objectionable.

  6. @Onesimus: Have to echo PL’s statement here since, in my experience, the greatest critics of all things faith-based, particularly Christian and Jewish, are those who are socially and politically liberal.

    @Questor: It seems if any of us, but particularly a public figure like Pratt issues a faith-based statement, they automatically open themselves/ourselves up for attack.

  7. On Facebook I frequently see folks respond using an emoji of praying hands when someone requests prayer. I can’t help but think that if they use an emoji as a response in lieu of a written response, how likely are they to actually go to the Father in prayer…

  8. You know, I wonder what entrance polling at the Judgment will look like.

    I don’t think all leftists are hostile to religion or charity, but seeing as they fill the role of both with government, I would say the needle definitely trends that way.

    Then again, yours truly tends to be liberal in certain aspects of redemption and such.

  9. As I see the political rhetoric here – always denouncing the “left” , it merely confirms to me that the political Kool-Aid has been well and truly swallowed.

    Political labels of Left and Right merely deflect attention away from the truth. What is referred to (even above) as the “religious right” is no less spiritually dangerous than any so-called “leftist” ideology.

    The important issue is not whether someone is “left” or “right” politically, but whether their agenda is in accord with GOD’s agenda.

    No one can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and money

  10. James said:

    in my experience, the greatest critics of all things faith-based, particularly Christian and Jewish, are those who are socially and politically liberal.

    Maybe those from your experience are merely more honest about their disdain for God than those who pander to the “religious right” who see political advantage in professing “faith” and using God’s name.

  11. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/note-special-edition-whats-stake-pennsylvanias-special-election/story?id=53691756
    (There’s a special election today.)

    …..

    … according to Saccone…. [who] took direct aim at his opposition in, perhaps, the most hostile rhetoric seen through this special election campaign[:]
    “Many of them have a hatred for our country,” the Republican claimed. “I’ll tell you some more. My wife and I saw it again today. They have a hatred for God.

    *Now look up the reason for the special election.*

    A fitting — but politically out of place — heading for a new blog topic would be “Yom Kippur and What Makes You Happy” so folks could discuss Trump’s lawyers and proclivities.

  12. Quote from opening post (James), beginning with quoting from the rabbi: In fairness, there were many who came to Pratt’s defense, including screenwriter and director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), who wrote, “There is nothing wrong with sending someone positive thoughts & prayers. But when this is coupled with inaction when action will benefit the situation, it’s empty. … (N)o one expects Chris Pratt to shoulder doctors out of the way and perform heart surgery on Kevin Smith. Nor does Kevin need Chris to pay his medical bills. So I think his prayers are appreciated, and about all he can do.”

    Gunn gets it. It’s one thing to object to “thoughts and prayers” when it’s in lieu of action. But if “thoughts and prayers” are all one has to offer, then objecting to it is nothing more than a mean-spirited attack on another person’s faith.

    Beyond this core point which pretty much says it all in terms of a response to the online anti-prayer pundits, the Rabbi went into the Jewish basis for prayer which may or may not particularly resonate with Pratt.

    What can I say that can add anything to what R. Abramowitz wrote? Probably not much except ……

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I agree with the above quotation of the rabbi.

    (Yet people are often accused of denigrating thoughts and prayers when what they are doing is saying thoughts and prayers shouldn’t be in lieu of action. Should I specify that the right does this? Of course that is what has happened; such messaging serves a purpose. And it detracts from the rabbi’s primary message to be partisan.)

  13. I’m confused about what you’re trying to say, Marleen. Are you saying you think the quotes that the rabbi culled from the Twitterati came from a rightist perspective? Or are you accusing James of expressing some sort of supposedly-typical rightist stance to falsely accuse leftists of tendencies toward anti-religious statements?

    As I look at those Twitter quotes above, none of them are saying what the rabbi said about empty prayers in place of action. All of them express some degree of outrage that someone should even suggest that prayer could be in any degree meaningful or effective with respect to a health issue. Some of them express atheistic disdain toward prayer and the notion that a G-d even exists Who could involve Himself in a human matter.

    Now we could try to evaluate statistically the characteristic viewpoints expressed by the opposing political views of right versus left in the USA. Since one of those expressions from the left specifically and frequently stigmatizes the “religious right”, I think we are justified in associating biblical religion and the political right. It is very rare that anyone refers to a “religious left”; consequently we must infer that such a category is much smaller and less significant than the “religious right”. Indeed, it is from the left that one hears and reads most complaints against biblically-based religion and religious people, not only regarding events in the public sphere but also regarding personal expressions, viewpoints or philosophical positions. I’m not sure if this is only from the secular left, or if whatever number constitute a religious left also express such antipathy because of how they perceive rightists to express themselves religiously.

  14. Since one of those expressions from the left specifically and frequently stigmatizes the “religious right”, I think we are justified in associating biblical religion and the political right.

    Maybe the “religious right” deserves to be “stigmatized” because it has been a false representative of God and God’s agenda.

    The “religious right” USES God for its own political agenda and merely reinforces the prejudices held by the Godless of all political persuasions. If we think we can associate ANY political ideology (left or right) with “biblical religion”, then we are severely misled.

    Ezekiel 16
    “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

  15. Is *that* your view of the political right in the USA, Onesimus? Is your concern for the poor and needy? You think that the notion of G-dly righteousness is merely used cynically as a tool to reinforce a political agenda? Tell me, do you dismiss the notion that the USA was founded upon biblically-informed principles, or that the men who did so were operating upon biblical presuppositions, by and large? Is the motivation to return the USA to that sort of worldview and conformity with its fundamental laws inimical to you? Is *that* what you deem “arrogance”? Is that what you deem politically wrong rather than right? If you think that the dismantling of FDR-styled or LBJ-styled social programs is contrary to concern for the poor and needy, you need to look more closely at the real motivation from the religiously held views of the “right”, which is primarily that compassion for the poor is an individual responsibility and benefit, and that faceless government is not properly capable of administering such a function in society. Government cannot respond properly to individuals, neither to the givers nor to the receivers. It isolates them one from the other, and strips dignity from one and blessing from the other — and a proper sense of responsibility from both.

    At one time, local community organizations called churches, led by “pastors” who were privy to information held in trust about the conditions of members in the community, served to coordinate the giving and distribution of “charity” between those who had surplus and those in distress. Their function could be compared to one which was administered by the Levites in ancient Israel. Transferring that function to secular government strips it of necessary constraints as well as its compassion.

    On the other hand, the administration of “Justice”, which is supposed to be “blind” to the distinctives between individuals in order to ensure equality of treatment and consideration of only their actions and not their social status, is more suited to the facelessness of secular government. The application of compassion in a society may best serve to keep individuals from becoming suitable candidates for processing by the Justice system, and for rehabilitating them afterward.

    Now, I do not say that “churches” are the only community organizations that should administer social assistance functions. Synagogues are obviously another variation of the theme, but perhaps it might be possible to form other community organizations to assist needy individuals without the religious “overhead” demands — although one must then ask what principles would guide and constrain participants and administrators comparably to biblical religious ones. Nonetheless it is organizations of this sort that must emphasize in a society the balance between individualism and communal responsibility.

    It is the assertion of the political right in the USA that governmental programs and demands cannot do perform such a function, and that they tend to produce tyranny when they try. And *that*, above all, is contrary to the foundational principles of the USA and to biblical principles as well.

  16. Wow..Lots of bubbling emotions and opinions here…whether you or anyone believes in religion, God, nature, their spiritual or religious, we all start in the same place(birth), we all end in the same place,(a physical death) in between is the opportunity to leave this world better and create cooperation in all arenas..nature never argues with anyone it just keeps giving and flowing and teaching..love to you all in your walk here , may it wake you every morning in gratitude for another day to love.

  17. Rabbi said what he said, PL. Including giving a few examples for kinds* of things some people tweeted… and then also saying that the thing Chris Pratt’s director [for the movie named] tweeted [among other supportive people*] was an example of getting “it.” I would think James understands it is true that the screenwriter-director named “gets it” (as the rabbi said) since he (James) quoted that piece and made more than one supporting statement, in his own way. So I agreed with the Rabbi and thus with James, PL. There’s not much real point in arguing with me about it — whether or not [and you chose not that] you see the list (“those Twitter quotes above,” as you, PL, put it) to be relevant for “what the rabbi said about empty prayers in place of action” while the rabbi put these together himself (if James [?do you think it is not the case that he?] presented the material with any due clarity). I wonder if it bothers you for the non-Messianic (I take it) rabbi, and a successful Hollywood participant as well, to so easily decipher and seek to teach what Yacov does (without citing Yacov)? Of course I understand, in a sense, if you don’t want to directly disagree with the rabbi or say he hasn’t been clear but nevertheless want to point out what you see as a discrepancy… thus putting it on me (because there is already some confusion apparent in the thread, so you might imagine a likely chance of pulling that off). And/or maybe you are having trouble discerning who said what again. I have a question for you, PL: Did you look up the reason we had a special election (in Pennsylvania) yesterday?

    * (who could be “right” or “left” or anything else)

    I’ll add a note because I’ve seen, Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) says Conor Lamb “could [did] run as a conservative.” Lol. That other guy (Saccone) ran as a cynic (and conservative) — complained Conor is young/thinks he can make change.

    This link is in case anyone doesn’t recognize the reference to Yom Kippur in the context of Trump:

    http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/873714/stormy_daniels_lawyer_proves_michael_cohen_was_speaking_for_trump

    The recorded interview below the article (above link) sometimes cuts off (or disconnects) before it is complete. But if you wait, it will start again and go longer (it did for me).

  18. @Marleen — The rabbi said that Gunn’s defense of Pratt showed that he understood that there was nothing wrong with what Pratt had tweeted. The rabbi also showed that Gunn reflected an understanding comparable to several examples of rabbinic opinion on the subject. He did not say that Pratt was expressing the same thing, though he agreed there was nothing wrong with Pratt’s well-wishing. He did not say that his twitter quotes were examples of the rabbinic view. He simply used them as a foil to spur the discussion of the rabbinic view which values both direct medical action and prayer (so that the prayer does not constitute “empty” prayer). James was not disagreeing, and neither was I — so if you’re not disagreeing with James, then we have no disagreement.

    Why would you think it might bother me that any rabbi would cite rabbinic opinions that correspond with what Yacov wrote in his letter? On the contrary, it was that correspondence that impressed me to cite it — as a parallel comparison, not as a discrepancy; and certainly not as a disagreement. I only noted that it was looking at the issue from its opposite emphasis — not unlike the difference between Rabbi Hillel’s expression of the “Golden Rule” and Rav Yeshua’s expression of it. One said “Don’t do unto others what you would hate for them to do to you” while the other said “Do unto others what you would want them to do for you”. Same coin, two sides. Two perspectives on the same principle. Similarly, neither empty faith, nor faithless action, but both prayer and the corresponding faithful action should be pursued to encompass the whole of a situation.

    As for the special election, it was called because of the resignation of a congressional representative due to scandal over sexual misbehavior. Such things commonly generate a great deal of support for the opposing party as a means of punishing the party of the offender — which is actually not, in itself, an appropriate basis for choosing, because it ignores the issues of public policy that ought to be the desiderata. However, such offenses are not limited to one party or the other, and recently there have been plenty to go around in both parties. So if you cited it as some generic evaluation of left or right political perspectives and policy goals, relative to other aspects of the current discussion, it doesn’t really serve that purpose.

  19. PL asked:

    Is *that* your view of the political right in the USA, Onesimus? Is your concern for the poor and needy? You think that the notion of G-dly righteousness is merely used cynically as a tool to reinforce a political agenda? Tell me, do you dismiss the notion that the USA was founded upon biblically-informed principles, or that the men who did so were operating upon biblical presuppositions, by and large?

    Yes to all of the above.

  20. PL, I note your shift from “religious right” to “political right”.

    Surely the “religious” ought to be encouraging and promoting those things that are putting God’s will and plan forward, those things that reflect God’s character and not following a political agenda set by the non-religious that is focused on individuality and the personal pursuit and maintenance of wealth.

    As I’ve already said, political labels of Left and Right merely deflect attention away from the truth.

    Both “wings” of the political divide are often equally Godless. However I’d say that the fact that “the religious” so often align themselves the right makes that side of politics much more dangerous regarding the integrity and spiritual well-being of “the religious”.

  21. Well, Onesimus, I’m drawing a connection between the political right and the religious right, at least in the USA. You see, all collective bodies are composed of individuals. Therefore, if one does not regard the rights of the individual, one will eventually exert a tyranny that denies the rights of the entire collective. And if individuals fail to pursue righteousness, the entire collective will suffer commensurately. HaShem decrees plans and destinies for entire collectives; but He deals with individuals.

    As for the pursuit and maintenance of wealth, an ancient Israeli insight is stated in Deut.8:18 – “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Wealth is not evil; only the excessive love of it that disregards this principle lies at the root of evil, as Rav Shaul wrote to Timothy in 1Tim.6:10 – “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Nonetheless, as you invoke the notion of promoting G-d’s will and plan, keep in mind His idyllic promise characterized by envisioning each man living securely under his own vine and fig tree — in other words, benefitting from his own resources, including his efforts to plant and tend them, as provided by the world which HaShem created. The process of approaching such a goal, however, includes some communal responsibilities as well, not the least of which is the compassionate use and distribution of wealth. In my last post, I did address the community structure needed to enable the exercise of “compassion” or “charity”.

    Apparently we disagree about the founding principles of the USA. I put it to you that the documents and letters produced by the majority of America’s founders demonstrate their upright worldview and expectations, regardless of the degree in which they may personally have fallen short of fulfilling them and regardless of the degree in which the operation of the country founded upon them has done likewise. The goals they outlined are nonetheless righteous and worthy of pursuit. They themselves did recognize that the power to pursue them lay with individual citizens working together under a godly worldview. The modern political “right” that seeks to do just that is pursuing righteousness and well-being both for individuals and for the entire body politic. As was stated when President Ronald Reagan sought to foster economic prosperity by the principles that his opponents labeled “Reaganomics”: “A rising tide floats all boats”. The same may be said for raising the level of expectations for conformity with the righteous principles underlying the USA. Their goals do, in fact, represent godliness, though their pursuit will fail and its results will be distorted if their worldview does not also apprehend proper values.

    All humans fall short, but not all do so for the same reasons. Some are weak or do not make an effort; some lack knowledge; and some deliberately rebel in order to pursue other values, disdaining the righteousness that our founders set before them. The first two are shortcomings characteristic of the political right, the third of the political left. And not only left and right, but all those in between, may represent individuals who are simply selfish; ignoring the noble values and expectations set before them as US citizens.

    Nonetheless, the religious right are closest to having the tools for proper pursuit of American righteousness. The secular right are less well-equipped to pursue it, but still they are oriented toward it. The left, on the other hand, have another agenda characterized by a philosophy of deconstruction. Applying that approach to the American dedication to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of [well-being]” can only result in death, tyranny, and unhappiness — an abrogation of the social contract that constitutes an American covenant and degrades life to become “nasty, brutish, and *short*”. To me, that explains why the biblically “religious” tend to be drawn toward the political right in America.

  22. Nonetheless, the religious right are closest to having the tools for proper pursuit of American righteousness.

    The very fact that you think “American righteousness” can be pursued through politics (of either wing) confirms that we’ll never come to agreement on this issue.

    Rather than making America (or any other earthly nation) great “again(?), God is moving towards establishing His Kingdom – firstly on earth for 1000 years, and then in His everlasting new heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells.

  23. I don’t know if James might be interested to move this political discussion to a new essay in its own right, but It does seem, Onesimus, that you and I are unlikely to come to agreement without at least examining the meanings of some of the terminology we use to discuss such matters.

    Let us look, for example, at the meaning of “politics”, in order to consider the question of whether it may be used to pursue “righteousness”. Here are some common definitions:
    1. the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.
    2. the activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries.
    3. the academic study of government and the state.

    But more fundamentally, our English word “politics” is derived from the Greek “πολιτικα” (“politika”, meaning “affairs of the cities”), and thus it is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It usually refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state. But we can ask, even more fundamentally, what is a “polis”, a “city”. As just mentioned, it refers to a “group”. Thus it is encompassing the entire notion of how the members of a group interact with each other, or the rules by which they ought to do so.

    In this context, I will invoke the notion of the “kingdom of heaven” (Hebrew: “malchut hashamayim”). I think it is not too much of a stretch to see the relationship between a kingdom and the Greek notion of the city-state upon which the word “politics” was based. What, then, are the rules by which the members of this kingdom ought to interact with each other? What are the politics associated with the kingdom of heaven? Rav Yeshua addressed this, while addressing a Jewish audience on a hillside, in Mt.5:19, when he observed that greatness in the kingdom of heaven belonged to those who both teach Torah and obey it. Conversely, those who teach and do otherwise would be “least” therein. In the subsequent verse 20 he also observed that diligence or righteousness even greater than the well-recognized zeal of the scribes and Pharisees would be required even to be entering into this kingdom. The Greek Aorist tense used by the gospel writer for the verb “to enter” tells us that such entry was perceived to be a repeated ongoing action. We may compare it to the notion of eating, which we do and are satisfied, but which we continue doing day after day — and usually multiple times during a day. We never really finish the ongoing process of eating; and we might similarly view the ongoing process of entering into the kingdom of heaven. This corresponds well with the ongoing process of walking in accordance with Torah. For Jews, this is the “covenant” by which to interact with fellow members of the covenant, fellow Jews, as well as with HaShem who is also a covenant partner. The Torah guides the “politics” of Jewish interaction in the kingdom of heaven, which is within us and among us here on earth insofar as we have eyes to envision it. This “political” mindset will, of course, be fundamental also to living in the millennial messianic kingdom when it is physically established in Jerusalem by the Messiah ben-David upon his return.

    Now, what does that mean for the gentile nations of the earth, both in the future and at present? We see in Acts 15 that gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua are not to be obligated to the entire Torah, but only constrained by a small subset of its precepts. The summary given in verses 23-29 doesn’t even include the ten commandments (can you believe that?)! However, in the preceding verse 21 there was a hint that these disciples were expected to continue learning Torah each shabbat in the synagogues, from the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees — whom Rav Yeshua also commanded his own Jewish disciples to obey, in Mt.23:2-3. Hence we may infer that the gentile disciples would be learning and incorporating into their spiritual “walk” additional moral principles derived therefrom. And thence we must derive the “politics” of interactions between Jews and gentiles and the “politics” of gentiles in their own nations.

    Given the above definition of politics, it should be clear why I would defend the notion that proper politics do indeed make a nation great and support the pursuit of righteousness. We may then examine the foundation of political principles in the USA for their comparison with those of Torah. I assert that the American foundation fares well under such examination. The remaining problems, and there are many, stem from human failures to implement these principles well and thoroughly. They are designed for fairness of application, but that does not guarantee that humans will always do so as well as the design allows. Nonetheless, the pursuit of them is noble and not to be disdained; and by them the nation in the aggregate may draw close to HaShem’s kingdom. Note that this is not the same as individuals entering into the kingdom mindset, though this is key to developing the spiritual maturity which is fundamental to properly “righteous” application of aggregate political principles.

    There is also much more that this essay-length response has not touched regarding the role of the “kingdom of heaven” within the wider theological topic of soteriology. But in a forum like this we can hardly be expected to take on even the whole consideration of the redemption of nations and their national politics, let alone to address the redemption of individuals and their behavior, attitudes, outlook, etc.

  24. 1) Did the rabbi call people “the left”? If not, putting that out there detracts and distracts; I personally don’t like his main message being obscured. Nevertheless, James’ desire to add (which I see as subtraction) brought the topic to his blog. And simply sorting what was the original message to the fore is fine. I know you, PL, don’t agree; that is, the rabbi didn’t say enough if he didn’t call people “the left.” But I am glad to have been brought in on what he did say.

    2) As for the ongoing confusion, I direct readers back to my March 13th 12:02 pm post; it’s not so complicated as it might seem subsequent to your reaction (which also serves a purpose), PL. I included a moderate (not short) quotation, agreed with the rabbi, then said the following: (Yet people are often accused of denigrating thoughts and prayers when what they are doing is saying thoughts and prayers should not be in lieu of action. Should I specify that the right does[*] this? Of course that is what has happened; such messaging serves a purpose. And it detracts from the rabbi’s primary message to be partisan.)

    * [both accuse and offer the nebulous in place of clarity of action]

    There are two angles (at least, but easily more facets) to what is addressed by James; I commented as to a second by saying that the pointing out of prayer (or thought or magical thinking) as not enough has been attacked as anti-faith… not by the rabbi [and not by James in this thread unless I missed it]. The gun lobby and those who tag along with them are an example. In the same way one should not jump to a conclusion with no basis about people of faith or people who send a kind word, one should take care not to follow the crowd [or the manipulative multimillion-billion-dollar interest group that poses as grass roots] and jump to conclusions about people who exhort that ideology and prayers aren’t the answer (nor a proper tactic) when more is necessary… saying a person or faction shouldn’t reject, overlook, or neglect helpful action is not a logical equivalent of rejecting faith.

    However, I would further that when it fits to call for action, appropriate action and calling for it are proper even if someone doesn’t have faith (or doesn’t claim to have faith or hasn’t figured out they can hypnotize a bunch of people by using certain words).

    Bottom line, this should go both ways — people shouldn’t attack people of faith by assuming+ prayer means nothing else is happening or to be addressed [and this is separate from whether a person does or does not, which is their right, believe in “God” or a particular take on said belief°], and people portraying themselves as of faith shouldn’t (in fact, even more so) attack people for wanting action and not only prayer or stance or “thoughts and prayers.”)

    ° I see James as having said this part too.

    + I say assuming, which doesn’t
    mean we should ignore evidence.
    Are not thoughts and prayers rather denigrated
    when used as a political tool to silence concerned citizens?

    {There might be an appearance of bringing up something random or off-topic now, but a look over PL’s posts will render that he has brought up guns already. And that’s not a problem since the thread was already political (from the start); and participants probably realize at least subconsciously that “thoughts and prayers” as a thing is very much a part of the debates around violence and safety.}

  25. …. I am glad to have been brought in on what he [the rabbi] did say.

    ……..

    I mean just from the opening post (the “Morning Meditation”). It’s not difficult to understand; I’d say it is straight forward.

  26. PL said:

    I don’t know if James might be interested to move this political discussion to a new essay in its own right,

    I hope not.

    A simple, basic reality doesn’t need to be obscured and made more confusing with philosophical wrangling and an abundance of words.

    As I’ve already said, political labels of Left and Right merely deflect attention away from the truth.

    Both “wings” of the political divide are often equally Godless.

    Righteousness can never be achieved through political ideologies no matter which way they lean.

  27. @Marleen — Just to be clear: the rabbi did not raise the subject of political right versus left. What the rabbi addressed was the difference between a militantly anti-religious posture and one which acknowledges that G-d exists and that prayers are effective and not to be denigrated. He further showed the Jewish balance that does not rely on prayer alone, but which recognizes the responsibility for human action also, particularly in medical matters.

    @Marleen and @Onesimus — It was James who noted in passing that the anti-religious posture often characterizes leftist political expression. Then Onesimus opined that such an observation was superfluous or slanted, because both political perspectives are equally flawed and godless. My responses to him were to argue that the sides are quite different and that a proper political perspective and stance can, contrarily, reflect godly principles and guide a society toward godly praxis. I further asserted that the worldview of the political right in the USA was closer to this ideal than that of the left, and that the foundational principles of the USA were godly principles. [Note in passing that “right” and “left” political stances in other countries often mean (and have meant in the past) different goals, policies and principles from what these terms mean in the USA.] There is often, obviously and often regrettably, significant difference between a political worldview and the actual behavior of its adherents. That is not a cause to condemn its principles, which must be evaluated on their own merits or demerits.

    Onesimus wrote: “Righteousness can never be achieved through political ideologies no matter which way they lean.”. Ultimately, I agree, because righteousness must come from the heart. Just as the Torah itself cannot save anyone, nor even can rote obedience to its precepts, redemption and righteousness require that Torah to be “written on the heart” and lived out by individuals and communities with correspondingly “circumcised hearts”. But note that the Torah is nonetheless fundamental guidance to shape this redemption and righteousness. Similarly, righteous political principles, such as the USA was founded upon, yielding righteous laws, provide fundamental guidance toward the redemption and righteousness of any society. The Torah is solely a Jewish covenantal obligation, as is the internalization of that covenant upon Jewish hearts as described by Jeremiah. But it provides a template and example for gentile societies also to do similarly, adopting the same principles, and perhaps even some similar practices. This is, in part, how the founding fathers of the USA came to formulate the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, the Madison letters, and other foundational American literature, from their western cultural background that had been colored by various forms of Christianity as well as by Enlightenment views that challenged and corrected some of gentile Christianity’s traditional errors.

    Some modern gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua, after realizing that they are not actually obligated participants in the Jewish covenant of Torah, have lamented that they feel thus deprived of necessary guidance. Rav Shaul, in his contributions to the corpus of the apostolic writings, attempted to address that issue for the ancient gentile disciples in his charge, responding to their questions and problems with instructions based on his own extensive knowledge of Torah’s principles. Since that time, others have elaborated and applied those principles in a number of instances. I assert that this is also what occurred in the USA’s foundational literature. Am I thus contending that this literature is a new Torah covenant for citizens of the USA? Not exactly. But subsequent progressive amendments to the Constitution have demonstrated much the same process as has been applied within Judaism for the development of halachah to apply the Torah to varying conditions throughout our generations. I leave as an exercise for the interested reader to consider which political perspective is most inclined toward allowing a biblical perspective to flourish and toward the good principles that originally shaped America.

  28. @Mike: I deliberately avoid any form of prayer request or “Can I get an Amen” because praying is not a social media thing.

    @Onesimus: I can see what your saying but at least in the U.S., my experience is that more Christians tend to be politically conservative and more atheists tend to be politically liberal. It’s not that a liberal can’t be religious or a conservative can’t be an atheist, but there’s a certain ideology that goes along with different political and social biases.

    It’s also true there are liberal churches and synagogues that are inclusive, feminist, and that pray for the safety of abortion clinics, so the term “religious” can be very loosely applied.

    Ultimately though you are correct and that only the Almighty can judge as to who He approves and who He does not. That said, I still think we can make a pretty good stab at how to live based on a Hebraic understanding of the Bible.

    Onesimus said: “Maybe the “religious right” deserves to be “stigmatized” because it has been a false representative of God and God’s agenda.”

    So are you taking the opposite position that only leftists are “right with God” or that only people who are totally apolitical can be “right with God?” Relative to helping the poor and needy, I know conservatives and liberals who do that, both the religious and non-religious. I guess if that’s the sole litmus test, then a lot of religious people and atheists are right with God for that reason.

    @Kerri Elizabeth: I’ve been writing in the religious blogosphere for some time and yes, conversations get heated. In fact, it’s one of the more contentious areas of social media interestingly enough. Your points somewhat echo Onesimus and yes, I suspect the Almighty finds our political bantering amusing and vain at times, probably most of the time.

    That said, someday, Messiah will return and establish his Kingdom on Earth and rule, so a form of government backed by God is not out of the question. In fact, a great deal of the Torah is the description of how to set up Israel’s ancient Theocracy, it having been (and will be again one day) the only nation directly rules by God.

    @Onesimus again: Relative to your response to PL, history supports the fact that the U.S. was founded by deists using Biblically-informed principles. Our criminal and civil laws are based on Biblical principles.

    PL said: I don’t know if James might be interested to move this political discussion to a new essay in its own right, but It does seem, Onesimus, that you and I are unlikely to come to agreement without at least examining the meanings of some of the terminology we use to discuss such matters.

    I think I’ll leave the discussion where it is. Creating a new blog post new would just be confusing.

    PL said: It was James who noted in passing that the anti-religious posture often characterizes leftist political expression.

    That’s true. I made the original statement and I stand by it. It’s not an either/or issue as I stated in comments above. I’ve known both liberal and conservative people who have helped the needy and hungry and who (believe it or not) share some common values. It’s not a matter of “right-good and left-evil” or vice versa. Yes, God is the ultimate judge of righteousness (and I remind people that Paul said none are righteous), but as I also said before, there tends to be certain ideologies attached to conservative vs. liberal political and social viewpoints that either are generally supportive of prayer and faith or oppose and denigrate it.

  29. @James: I agree with you that moving the conversation would be confusing (and otherwise pointless). [PL is accomplishing confusion quite well as it stands, though.]

    @PL: I not only understand what the rabbi said, I know James added the topic of the left as a piggyback on the rabbi. I’ve been plenty clear. But quoting James and the rabbi (nineteen lines, twenty including the lead-in) and adding seven lines of my own might be understandable to readers (including James); that’s where you come in. And now, with more elaboration in response to your confusion, you still act like I don’t get it. But there’s a method to your madness.

    The determination to fill space pretending someone needs lengthy lecturing is quite a spectacle (in defiance of seeing that the concepts are already received by said someone… likely involving the someone previously believing the concepts before they were said [which, in fact, is the case]). But besides the goal potentially being achieved — of convincing others, by the very doing of the filling space with lecture, that there is a (supposed) foundation for the lecturing on simple matters so as to not, as per the “lecturer” self-appointed, acknowledge the equally simple logical balance voiced by the “lecturee” — we now have mind boggling assertions as to righteousness (perhaps only a slight amplification of James’ wish[?]). I can only hope people with eyes look around at reality.

    I have to state, looking at this bizarre “conversation” and the direction it has to go apparently due to forces unseen — now accusing someone (not me directly) who has said more than once that neither the left or the right is righteous — that I was submerged in conservative thinking as a child and living it out more fully than most on through as an adult when I realized the right is not defending the values I held and hold dear. At some point, there is a need to wake up.

  30. James, why is it that if someone says something about the poor and needy and concern for them, you ask the person if that’s the only requirement — but if someone (PL) says you shall be rich and gain more, there is no snarky comment? I see that you later acknowledged neither the left or right is evil (or something along that line) because they both help people (I mean, and take it you mean, help in that sense of someone actually needing help), and I appreciate that.

  31. I should add, because conservatives generally are not aware. The rich are often “helped” because they are seen as inherently superior and worthy, no matter how corrupt or dishonest or at fault.

  32. Shavua Tov, Marleen — In the homespun wisdom of Tevye the milkman in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “It’s no sin to be poor, but it’s no great blessing either.” And when his second daughter’s Bolshevik boyfriend proclaimed: “Riches are a curse!”, Tevye’s response was: “Then may the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!”. It seems to me that a lot of us would agree with Tevye.

    My own comments under this essay, which admittedly were rather off topic and justifiable only by the contretemps over James’ passing remark that invoked political side-taking, did not quite say what you, Marleen, seem to have made of them. I never said: “… you shall be rich and gain more”. I quoted Moshe Rabbeinu in Deuteronomy where he said the it is HaShem Who grants the power to obtain wealth; and he cautions his audience against pride in the matter when they do so. I also emphasized the “compassionate use of wealth”. Obviously, in HaShem’s eyes, and Moshe Rabbeinu’s, it’s no great sin to be wealthy — and the question about whether such a condition becomes a blessing or a curse depends on what actions the wealthy take in response. Are they selfish? Are they generous? Are they philanthropic? Do they use their wealth to start more businesses to employ more people to lift them out of poverty or keep them from falling into it?

    There is, of course, an unanswered question about the boundaries by which one measures wealth or poverty or something between them. There seems to exist rather a sliding scale that varies with geography. This may represent differences between the economies of nations, or even between neighborhoods of a single city. And then there is the parody of the notion expressed in the Janis Joplin song whose refrain pleads: “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me, a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends, So Lord, won’t you buy me, a Mercedes Benz?”. Nonetheless, someone who has enough financial blessing that they may not only contribute a tithe of their income but may add to that special contributions to charitable projects and organizations, may be called wealthy, and a benefactor who uses their wealth compassionately. This may be measured on a small scale as well as a large one, just as there exist folks who may be deemed more wealthy or less so.

    On the other hand, those who are poor also have a choice about how they will respond to their condition. They may choose to work harder, perhaps using greater ingenuity and initiative to find suitable work and progress financially. Or they may choose to give in to depression and do nothing, fading into worse poverty. Or they may choose to become beggars, dependent upon handouts from individuals or from government entitlement programs (where such programs exist). However, it is possible and commendable if this condition can be rendered temporary, as a stepping stone toward seeking improvement by education or seeking employment (or both). Or they may choose to become thieves, either by cheating and deceiving, or pursuing illegal “business ventures”, or by violent attacks, or by breaking into homes and legitimate businesses. Each of these choices invokes moral characteristics, just as the choices of the wealthy do.

    One question which I invoked in another post has to do with a type of politics that deprives the “wealthy” of the blessing of personalized philanthropic initiative. If a government interferes by trying to provide charity to the poor and needy, it blocks the way for private individuals to contribute voluntarily, because the taxes it demands from them to do so prevents them from distributing gifts themselves, and prevents them from developing the sense that it is truly their individual responsibility as those who have been blessed above others — comparable to the notion of “noblesse oblige”. Care for the needy could be handled entirely by private organizations. Government might help to identify where needs exist, and work with corresponding organizations, requiring very little tax overhead. It could serve to ensure that they regularly publish (online, preferably) reports about their effectiveness and efficiency, to verify that their administrative costs do not consume too large a portion of contributed funds and that they actually accomplish their charitable goals. Diversifying and decentralizing this societal function increases the likelihood that personal interactions between contributors, administrators, and recipients will ensure that all are convinced about the “rightness” of a match between contributors and recipients and the need to be addressed. Should government also monitor the amounts of such contributions relative to income, perhaps to levy a “selfishness tax”? Once upon a time there was such a thing called a “luxury tax”, but that was merely a form of sales tax on big-ticket items. Effectively, the IRS already does something like the “selfishness tax” by the system of charitable deductions on an itemized tax return, which reduce one’s net taxable income liability. Thus those who do not give charitably pay more tax on the same amount of earnings because their amount of taxable income is not reduced. However, the present system is somewhat over-controlling and limiting regarding the organizations through which one may contribute, and the demands made by the government on organizations that might wish to qualify.

    I suspect that the primary difference in our views is about the role of government versus private organizations (including churches and synagogues).

    However, in a separate post, you added the observation: “… because conservatives generally are not aware. The rich are often “helped” because they are seen as inherently superior and worthy, no matter how corrupt or dishonest or at fault.”. Now, I would call this an opinion that is somewhat shy of supporting evidence. You slam “the rich” with no identification about whom you mean or by what measure you deem them “rich”. You insinuate that they, whomever they are, are corrupt or dishonest and receive favorable treatment, though you don’t say from whom. And you slam “conservatives” (another category for whom no exemplars are cited) for being unaware of these unspecified presumed injustices. I would tell you that my experience and observations are different, but I could not be sure that we are actually talking about the same kinds of situations or people. Your complaint then appears as nothing less than a case of classic “lashon ha-r’a”.

    You’ve got me confused again, Marleen. You complain about my long posts, but you don’t address specific ideas in them or the logic and presuppositions from which they are derived, and in what way do you find fault in them. You impugn my motives for writing them, which I will tell you now is strictly an exercise in “tikun ha’olam”. What is it you really want to discuss, Marleen?

  33. James asked: “So are you taking the opposite position that only leftists are ‘right with God'”

    James, I made it very clear when I said:
    “Both “wings” of the political divide are often equally Godless.”
    So I have to wonder why you would even ask that question.

    And the second question you ask: “or that only people who are totally apolitical can be “right with God?”

    To repeat for about the third time what I said earlier:
    Righteousness can never be achieved through political ideologies no matter which way they lean.

    The only way to “be right with God” is to put Him and HIS agenda first. At times man’s ideologies might even be in agreement with SOME of God’s agenda (even a broken clock is right twice a day) but that partial agreement is not the specific territory of any one political ideology.

  34. So now, PL, you want to compare anyone (or all, or me) not agreeing with you or your strange (even if popular) rationalized righteousness so-called to a fictional daughter’s boyfriend. Lol. What is missing is actual reading and logic. That is if the conversing is in good faith (in the sense of the idiom). [No need to explain the musical further or to have brought it up at all as if to elucidate. But it did bring a couple chuckles and a sense of nostalgia; it’s a fun, heart-warming production.]

    Additionally, no one said it’s bad to be wealthy. Did they? You’ve been jumping to a bunch of conclusions. Ostensibly, so jumping was to be discouraged by this thread; an aspect of the whole point. But as has been shown and shown again, There is a bigotry to the application of the supposed principle — because it’s not a principle herein. There is inconsistency in application to people and in application of concepts to reality, and in the taking of information.

    “James’ passing remark […] invoked political side-taking” — rather than was itself side-taking, PL? Also, my paraphrasing of parts of what you’ve been saying put together (as you wrote about pursuing wealth plus your theories) was not in quotation marks, PL, as I wasn’t saying it was a quote. Now, I point out that it was HaShem saying Sodom (a community referred to as a sister, not an individual) was unconcerned about the (truly) needy.

    Next, I didn’t “slam” people, as you put it, for not knowing something. I stated that it is often not known (and I would say that is being generous toward the folks assuming the rich deserve to be rich as an act of God). Here we go again: you want to say someone else is engaging in “lashon ha-r’a” when YOU have been doing that, and I have not. Now, I haven’t scripted out all of the examples. I suggest you pray for wisdom and receptivity and perhaps humility.

  35. @Onesimus — I’d like to examine your logic with respect to HaShem’s “agenda”. Let’s say, for simplicity’s sake, that agenda consists of 10 points. Let us then consider a human ideology ‘A’, which emphasizes points 1, 2, and 3 of HaShem’s agenda. So far we have partial agreement, right? Now let’s consider human ideology ‘B’, which emphasizes points 4, 5, and 6 of HaShem’s agenda, but which vehemently opposes ideology ‘A’, and therefore also opposes points 1, 2, and 3 (along with having no position on points 7-10). Now, each ideology may be evaluated as 30% in agreement with HaShem, but ‘A’ and ‘B’ are diametrically opposed to each other. It should be clear, however, that the specific points which one each does emphasize are most certainly the “specific territory” of only one of the ideologies.

    Of course, real human ideologies are not so simple. Sometimes they even agree in principle on the same ideals, but disagree completely on how to achieve them. And, since you reiterated once again your lemma that “righteousness can never be achieved through political ideologies no matter which way they lean”, I presume you dismiss the logic I presented to show the falsity of that premise. HaShem gave to Israel His Torah instructions precisely to make of them a political entity, a nation. That Torah was their guide to achieving His righteousness. It was not of itself sufficient to do so alone; it had to be coupled with the service of the heart, with trust. Those who trusted and obeyed were righteous. Those who failed in either of these aspects were not. Those who failed but recognized their failure and repented were restored to righteous equivalency, because they trusted HaShem’s restoration process and conformed with it. That’s not merely religion, that is politics, because HaShem is King, and the Righteous Judge over all creation — and His Torah deals more with the horizontal relationships between man and his neighbor than it does with man’s vertical relationship to HaShem.

    Nonetheless, your accusation that both left and right political perspectives (in the USA) are equally godless is a false equivalency. That dismissal is superficial, and incorrect (due, no doubt, to its lack of specific analysis). People who hold views of one sort or other may be godless, but the ideology to which they aspire may be in large measure godly. Now, if you’d like to engage in some of that specific analysis, we might discuss some particular disagreement between right and left, and subject both to a biblical comparison. I tried to do so in prior posts, relative to the leftish sloganeering that bashes “the rich” and generally fosters class warfare. This is a small illustration of a larger characteristic “dialectical” philosophy that seeks to identify societal groupings and pit one against the other, expecting the strongest to survive. Another leftish characteristic is “materialism”, which denies the existence of numinous or supernatural phenomena and therefore demonizes religious views and behaviors. Both of these are diametrically opposed to a G-d-given Torah system, or any similar system that might be employed by the nations in general. This is fundamentally why the left is continually trying to deconstruct the American Constitution and re-interpret it and rewrite it to fit a different set of values from those embodied within it 250 years ago by men who held to a form of biblically-informed religious views (however imperfectly understood or implemented). This is, with a deliberate pun, why the left is not right.

  36. @Marleen — I have not been criticizing people, but rather I have been presenting rational arguments to illustrate a perspective. You still have not addressed any particular argument of mine to challenge its logic or its presuppositions. You’re attacking me for writing them, but an ad-hominum attack is an invalid one. You similarly complained about several groups according to identifying labels, but without specifying details about whom or about any specific exemplary positions. This is called “identity politics”, and it is similarly devoid of logic or content.

    Humility is the willingness to examine oneself and recognize and acknowledge shortcomings relative to others and relative to valid standards of value. Wisdom is the application of the information so derived. I claim to pursue both. Where are your arguments to show me my supposed error?

  37. Hello? Is there anybody in there? Identity politics is quite what you do, PL. Class warfare, indeed… the right has been pulling this off in spades (in the real world), while accusing “the left” in the ideological realm — it’s quite the handy-dandy distraction. The projection is astounding. Now beyond the righteousness of monetary gain, the left is to go to hell. Voting Republican or Libertarian isn’t going to get anyone into heaven; that’s a somewhat hyperbolic statement, but not too far from what has been put forward by “the right” in this thread. The main difference is not claiming to be a church person (heaven and hell), though those church people are fine if they’re “right” (so the thought goes).

    The original point in this topic of blog was — aside from accusing “the left” — that it would be nice if people didn’t jump to a conclusion about someone saying they are praying (that this means no action). And I said it would be nice too if “the right” (self-defining) didn’t jump to conclusions when those they perceive or label as the left want action (not only prayer). But all that be damned; we can see what’s most important — not the concepts. And certainly not the rabbi’s missive which has only been burdened (not belabored). [I will admit I say this not knowing if the rabbi himself has belabored “the left.” ]

    I also showed that the right is very slippery about definitions, seriously dishonest to the point where one (being responsible to see and believe truth for oneself) has to see through it. That is, see it for what it is and get past the obstruction. People can see it for themselves in the news, if they actually access news and not an indoctrination machine (and don’t take Trump as an honest broker either). They call themselves conservative and right. They can claim right, as can you, but not correct to such a degree. Why would I give you additional examples, PL? You live [here anyway] in the imaginary where you can (in your mind and typing) flippantly call real news fake or gossip, or simply ignore it.

    You have done it repeatedly (not only in this conversation). You have also told me not to speak truth. And in some way, you benefit (or you think you do) from my country (where I live and not only vote or spout off) being harmed. Why else would you side with the lobby that want basically no action other than the sale of more guns in my country — while you describe* the usefulness of guns in the country where you live with details, controls or regulations, that are very unlike what we have here? Actually, I’m not so much wondering if there is anybody in there, so to speak; I have begun to question who you really are. Many people can learn a language if they put their mind to it.

    *(as if the portrayal of order and controls done there is support for what we don’t do here — it doesn’t make sense)

    @all: Here’s an informative article… but with typos such as use of the word predecessor. I don’t share it to take a side, just inform:

    https://www.thoughtco.com/gun-rights-under-president-ronald-reagan-721343A
    Pro-Second Amendment President Who Supported Gun Control Measures

    Here’s another one. And here is the wording under the list offering from a search: GunsAmerica Digest
    https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/ronald-reagan-anti-gun
    It was Reagan who signed legislation as Governor that turned California from an Open Carry state to a mockery: the new law stipulated that guns may only be carried openly without a permit if they were unloaded. This legislation was in response to the Black Panthers walking into the State Assembly floor packing loaded guns as part of a …

  38. Pl said: @Onesimus — I’d like to examine your logic with respect to HaShem’s “agenda”. Let’s say, for simplicity’s sake, that agenda consists of …

    __________
    Simplicity’s sake?
    Sorry PL, but your lengthy and convoluted philosophies have nothing in common with “simplicity”.

    Simplicity is taking scripture as it is written,

    in ITS simplicity.

    God’s agenda is clearly outlined there – the ultimate destination He is taking leads to a new heavens and a new earth. (I cheated I read the end to see how things turn out).

    In that new creation, there will only be room for righteousness.

    In the meantime He’s preparing a people for that new creation – a people who are willing to give Him (the Creator) His rightful place in their lives, through relationship with His Son the Messiah Jesus.

    More detail here:
    https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/gods-glorious-gospel/

  39. The logic in this thread leads to the conclusion that certain people here would stand with the crusades because the people in them were majority Christian. Why question them too much? Just go with the fact they claim to value the bible and god; what they do isn’t so important. What a funny situation to have people who participate in a blog that exists as a critique of Christianity to say critique is misplaced.

    Additionally, what a strange mismatched set of values (or misdirections) that regulations, rules, standards, controls, etcetera, are to be maintained and appreciated in some other country — even the other country — while a situation of few to no rules and regulations are to be taken as the equivalent here. Bottom line this goes against the intended opening moral of the story.* And they’re sticking to it.

    However, James also said, on March 16, 2018 at 6:12 in the morning,
    @Mike: I deliberately avoid any form of prayer request or “Can I get an Amen” because praying is not a social media thing.

    So I guess that’s another lesson learned.

  40. … stand with the crusades because the people in them were majority Christian

    The religious right of their day!

    They probably also insisted that their cause was founded “using Biblically-informed principles”.

  41. @Onesimus — A comment like yours shows that you have no idea what were the political dynamics of the Crusades, nor the differences between Europe a millennium ago and the USA of the present, and certainly not the USA in its formative years. Moreover, if you can adopt such a tone of mockery about the phrase “biblically-informed principles”, I can only doubt that you understand them either.

    One more point about your notion of simplicity as taking scripture “as it is written”: Do you find it simple to read Koine Greek? How about Hebrew? Except for half of Daniel you can get by without much Aramaic. But that’s how they are written; and even reading the original text in these languages can be misleading unless their cultural context and background is understood. I agree with Albert Einstein that explanations of scientific principles should be as simple as possible — but not simpler. Oversimplification simply omits information critical to accurate understanding. The principle applies as well to biblical understanding. Superficiality is simple — but it is also wrong.

    @Marleen — You wrote against jumping to conclusions, yet you have leapt beyond all logic and offered terribly presumptuous and inaccurate accusations. Clearly you have misinterpreted a number of statements written here, certainly you have misrepresented statements that *I’ve* made, and I don’t know where to begin trying to address what you’ve written, or the attitudes that I infer are its impetus.

  42. PL said:

    A comment like yours shows that you have no idea what were the political dynamics of the Crusades

    They weren’t much different to the political dynamics that led to recent military “crusades” led by the US; none of which had anything in common with “biblically-informed principles” supposedly held by the “religious” right sponsoring those wars.

    Likewise, the foundations of the US had no more to do with “biblically-informed principles” than any other so-called “Christian” nation of the time. Evidenced by the shocking foundational history of abuse of America’s native population, and its equally abhorrent history of slavery.

    And no, I can’t read in the languages you speak of, but maybe I trust God to give the understanding needed to know Him and His ways.

    He doesn’t restrict that understanding to a scholarly elite (or professional clergy). People who try to exalt themselves with convoluted philosophies. The kind of people who try to convince us that the bible doesn’t really mean what it says, and that we need their (“God-ordained”) expertise to interpret it’s “real” meaning.

  43. (James, this corrects the format of my previous comment – which indicated the whole lot as a quote from PL instead of just the first lines, please delete that earlier comment which is now repeated here)

    PL said:

    A comment like yours shows that you have no idea what were the political dynamics of the Crusades

    They weren’t much different to the political dynamics that led to recent military “crusades” led by the US; none of which had anything in common with “biblically-informed principles” supposedly held by the “religious” right sponsoring those wars.

    Likewise, the foundations of the US had no more to do with “biblically-informed principles” than any other so-called “Christian” nation of the time. Evidenced by the shocking foundational history of abuse of America’s native population, and its equally abhorrent history of slavery.

    And no, I can’t read in the languages you speak of, but maybe I trust God to give the understanding needed to know Him and His ways.

    He doesn’t restrict that understanding to a scholarly elite (or professional clergy). People who try to exalt themselves with convoluted philosophies. The kind of people who try to convince us that the bible doesn’t really mean what it says, and that we need their (“God-ordained”) expertise to interpret it’s “real” meaning.

  44. I heard a quotation today. Reagan once said
    (about his White House) that
    the right wing doesn’t know what the far right wing is doing.

  45. @Onesimus — I’m not sure what you mean by “recent military “crusades” led by the US”, so I can’t actually comment on their possible relationship to “biblically-informed principles”. But let’s return to that after some consideration of the Crusades, which ostensibly were motivated by a slogan to liberate the Holy Land from the Infidels — meaning, at that time, Muslim invaders. However, long before they left Europe and reached “the Holy Land”, they found many communities of Jews, whom they slaughtered mercilessly and whose books and Torah scrolls and synagogues they burned; and when they reached Jerusalem they herded the entire Jewish community into the Great Synagogue and set it ablaze with the Jews inside, proceeding to march around it singing their hymn “Christ, we adore Thee”. Now, they also fought with a great many Muslim before Saladin drove them back to Europe, but all-in-all, I suspect there is very little in their behavior that suggests they were pursuing any of the biblical values with which you may identify.

    Similarly, while the founders of the USA settled peaceably alongside various Indian tribes, they discovered after some years that these tribes were not all of the same peaceable outlook. There was this little matter of the French and Indian Wars that rather soured the relationship due to Indian ruthlessness. When Sacagawea agreed to guide Lewis and Clark, and pave the way for American settlement of vast territories of the Louisiana Purchase, was she an unwitting dupe and collaborator against her people, or was she representing the hopes of the tribes that recognized the potential benefits of peaceful relations with a prosperous expanding civilization? Many of these tribes had been preyed upon by neighboring tribes, and they may have hoped that a change in demographics and weaponry might be helpful. Nonetheless, the later abusive practices by the American government, its army, and the West-bound settlers may be attributed not to foundational American values or biblical values, but to other influences entirely.

    Slavery is another case of departure from the foundational values of individual liberty and rights, owing to other influences that somehow injected a racial theory about the nature of mankind quite contrary to the foundational notion of “all men created equal”. But departures from these foundational values do not invalidate the positive and biblical foundation itself, just as the Crusades are not evidence that biblical values are invalid.

    So, returning to whichever modern military adventures you view falsely as equivalent to the Crusades, you have not identified what values each one may have pursued, to enable consideration of whether either American or biblical values were among them, nor what characteristics about them or their goals might have appealed to the US political or religious “right”.

    Now, when I invoked the original languages of the scriptures, I was not constraining their understanding to some scholarly or clerical elite. My profession is engineering, but I have been blessed to learn more than just those disciplines including a bit of philosophy, rabbinics, Jewish literature, and biblical languages. Once upon a time topics like those latter were considered a natural part of a well-rounded education. Nonetheless, I have discovered that sometimes what the bible actually says is rather different from what a lot of folks think it says; and therefore I’ve come to appreciate relevant expertise that applies itself to proper accurate interpretation of its texts.

    Your trust in G-d is commendable; but which people and resources among the various translations and teachers do you trust, and on what basis? Trust is of no value if it is empty, devoid of knowledge about the provisions and gifts that HaShem has made available, or of the discernment that can distinguish between them and unworthy alternatives. Rav Yeshua invoked the example of a trusting child as demonstrating attitudes necessary for entering the kingdom of heaven; but he also spoke of needing to be wise as serpents as well as innocent like doves (and sometimes, even to carry swords). We may consider, then, what subsequent course is to be followed by a trusting child, which is to learn from those who can lead it toward maturity. Childlike trust is not a substitute for the study that leads to wisdom and maturity in HaShem’s ways.

  46. Interesting discussion.

    A little historical perspective, if I may.

    America’s problem is spiritual, not political. Onesimus is right that neither “left” no “right” has anything relevant to say about, and no means to address, America’s spiritual problem.

    Christians should be the people most able to guide America in our current spiritual crisis: but very many have instead been side-tracked into the “religious Right,” or “Christian conservative” movement. That “movement” was, and is, a political entity. Its facade of Christianity is entirely based on its claimed equivalence of political “conservatism” and Christianity…a claim scripture no way verifies, anymore than it verifies the identification of any other human political ideology with the Kingdom of God.

    The political (rather than Christian) purpose of that movement was evident from the first, when it delivered a vast majority of Christians’ votes to the “conservative” candidate in the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan…against Jimmy Carter, a thoroughgoing Christian. The “religious right” proved so successful at politically manipulating Christians that pandering to “evangelicals” is still de rigueur “conservative” rhetoric. It says nothing flattering about “evangelicals” spiritual discernment that they remain a major sub-demographic of the Republican/”conservative” base, after 40 years’ experience how empty (except of hypocrisy) that political rhetoric is.

    The spirit of “conservatism” has likewise been evident from the first. Reagan’s inaugural proclamation that “Government is the PROBLEM” couldn’t have stated more clearly the anti-government (read “rebellious”) principle of conservatism. To the spiritually-discerning and scripturally-knowledgable, “rebellion” points to one source, with whom Christians must never be in league. But anti-government rebelliousness (or “lawlessness”) remains a core principle of “conservative” politics…and, through Christians’ unwise identification with that faction, has insinuated itself into Christians’ thinking (there are several examples in above comments).

    “Conservatism” has not changed its nature in these 40 years. And its current manifestation is surely as great an opponent of truth and righteousness as can ever be.

    Christians were unwise to ever have anything to do with it. And we have His promise that God will be merciful to forgive the repentant. But at this evil time, we’d be foolish to assume that He is obligated to continue offering His mercy of forgiveness much longer.

  47. I had hoped you would see the logical fallacy of your stance, PL, due to comparison. It’s a normal use of formal logic. Instead, you have run in circles missing the meaning after missing other meaning.

    None of that means I am saying our current American Constitution is bad. That’s a canard.° But I am saying not to fall for “the right” (or whoever says they are that, whatever that is) hook-line-and-sinker.

    [ ° Individuals of various sorts, not “left” definitionally, would sideline law, including the Constitution. And it can appear unbelievable, but is in fact the case, that groups like the ACLU have stood for Christian rights.]

  48. @wakarusaguy — Interesting that you should pick on President Jimmy Carter. I voted for the guy, precisely because of what might come of his “thoroughgoing Christian” values, and I came to regret it heartily. Apparently his version of Christian values is supersessionist and anti-Israel, as demonstrated by his numerous forays into international affairs since his presidency, as well as some disappointments during it. It’s not beyond reason to suggest that Jimmy Carter is one of the strongest reasons for which Christians voted in droves for Ronald Reagan who represented a return toward fundamental American values that were rooted in biblical views. Christian supersessionism, anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism, and anti-Israelism are by nature anti-biblical, because Rav Yeshua was pro-Torah and certainly the same must be said of his heavenly Father HaShem. So you might well ask who is rebelling against whom; and which side are you on?

    I would agree with you that America is suffering spiritual problems; but I would say they are the source for political ones as well. If you’ve read my lengthy posts here, you’ll understand why. Likewise you’ll see why I disagree with Onesimus about the root values of the political left and right; and why the right is more favorable to biblical values.

    As for scripture [verifying] “the identification of any … human political ideology with the Kingdom of God”, perhaps you exclude the Torah as a human political ideology — because Rav Yeshua’s observations in Mt.5:19 very clearly connect that Torah with greatness in that kingdom. Nonetheless, the Torah is a Jewish ideology, and gentiles are not obligated to more than a few basic precepts of it (per Acts 15:23-29). One may ask, then, if the foundational documents and principles of the USA, such as the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers, the Madison letters, and some others, happen to enshrine a form of “Torah” suited to a gentile commonwealth. I say that, not to place them on a par with the Tenach and the apostolic writings, but possibly to place them on a par with the Didache.

    As for your false equivalency between Reagan-style conservatism and rebelliousness or lawlessness: you haven’t been paying attention to the nature of American politics. We began by throwing off a yoke of tyranny expressed in the monarchy of England’s King George III. We continued by establishing a government that enshrines a bloodless revolution every four years, whereby we can “throw da bums out” and replace them with others who seem better suited to represent the popular wishes and wisdom. We even have term limits in some cases to ensure that one individual cannot overstay his welcome. And we have at least two competing parties from which to choose candidates to ensure that multiple perspectives are heard and considered. This is all constrained and defined by law; so we are certainly *not* lawless. I presume you don’t think the American Revolution was a rebellious mistake and that the USA should never have left the colonial rule of England.

    Tyranny is not a biblical value; but it is the intrinsic nature of leftist ideology to slide “progressively” toward it. So-called “liberals” delight in enlisting more and more powerful government agencies to enforce uniformly what they deem to be “right” and “moral” and to tax individuals to pay for the costs of doing so. They have no tolerance, however, for the individuals who may view matters of right and morality differently, especially when they claim a biblical basis for doing so. They have no trust in the morality of individuals to pursue what is right and good without a “liberal” definition of it being forced upon them by an irresistible government. Well, the American view that conservatives wish to conserve is that government has only certain limited functions to perform, one of which is to preserve *liberty*.

    Christians who value the apostolic writings and Jews who value the Torah have every good reason to align themselves with American conservatism and the individual liberties it seeks to preserve. That does not, of course, relieve them of any of the responsibility they bear, because of these values, to evaluate individual conservative policies vis-à-vis these scriptures, participating in debate over how these policies are formulated and casting the weight of their votes toward the strongest support of such values. Those who pursue HaShem’s righteousness diligently may rely on HaShem’s faithfulness to offer mercy and forgiveness of their shortcomings. Even in the case of a place as far from HaShem’s values as was ancient Sodom, if merely ten righteous men could have been found therein, HaShem would have spared it from destruction. Can we not hope for better in the USA?

  49. Can we not? This is the question.
    {While we can’t assume this specific kind of bargain is available to us, forgiveness is for now. The idea can cause us to think.}

    Now a note on force: law largely is enforcement; this is an aspect of government. And while very backward “values” have been maintained under the guise of liberty, my country has^ progressed. Freedom for minority individuals, including black people (or, per the times, negro) had to be enforced (a replacement of better ideas to enforce over the other ideas that had been enforced and we needed to reject). I truly hope you don’t believe we should have waited — which is a real, and right wing, stance — until white (or more established or priveleged) folks got around to feeling like being decent.

    Likewise, while potentially less defensible (but I do indeed defend it), the American Revolution enforced our separation from the English king; the desire for a change of direction wasn’t unanimous (and we engaged in a war that sometimes destroyed a neighbor). We progressed the application of the ways we saw, or wanted to insist, life should be.

    The truth is the left wants limited government too… possibly more so, but differently. They don’t so much speak of dismantling the government (other than, for example, removing sub-regimes of inserting probes into vaginas) but of reforming it. It is possible Reagan wanted to be a reformer, but elements surrounding him had different plans.

    ^ There is an apparent abhorrent liking for tyrannical leaders right now — for instance Putin.

  50. ProclaimLiberty
    March 23, 2018 at 8:06 am
    Said:

    @Onesimus — I’m not sure what you mean by “recent military “crusades” led by the US”, so I can’t actually comment on their possible relationship to “biblically-informed principles”.

    ???

    WOW!!!

  51. As I recall, Onesimus, I said a good deal more about the values represented in the Crusades, as well as those that might have been the pursuit of one or another modern military campaign or foray, whether or not it succeeded to achieve its long- or short-term goals. Nonetheless, “values clarification” is precisely the sort of analysis that is required in order to compare any of them with biblical values.

    Do I infer correctly that your exclamation of “WOW!!!” implies that you presume the results of such an analysis to be simple, obvious, already well-known, and “weighed-in-the-balance-and-found-wanting”? If so, I would ask if you have seen any documentation of such analyses to which you might refer me? By this, I do not mean opinion essays from one or another side of the political divide.

  52. This thread began with the assumption that it is godly to be right wing, to not have to think about it or illustrate it. So much so that someone not arguing was nevertheless “not” understandable (not for lack of clarity, nor for missing plain meaning). A lesson had been cynically used from another writer, and a direct response stating the supposed lesson of the story [*] and a companion but so-far unstated meaning was taken as from outer space. The person so stating (me) had not yet realized the full-cynic-mode at play, thus stated the obvious… that is, obvious logic for people who are allowed to and free to think.

    It is still the case that in the same way a person who says he is praying should not be judged (with no other evidence) as not wanting appropriate correlating action, a person saying further action is wanted (and not only prayer) should not be automatically judged as anti-faith. In fact, it shouldn’t be offensive at all for a person of faith to hear action is called for… unless said person’s conscience is pricked, spurring said person to create diversions

    * [In an earlier post, I meant to remove an asterisk in the body of my text, but forgot to remove it. The note would have been, but I was reserving judgment, that I wasn’t sure there was any original meaning or content intended… just an excuse. Supposed meaning, not actual meaning. Something that looked good.]

  53. @Marleen — Actually, the contention in this thread began with a suggestion that it is harder to accept the statement of a particular godly self-expression if one is left-wing. No one suggested that godliness was automatic for right-wingers; only that the right-wing outlook was more naturally receptive to it. The premise was then justified by logical argument.

    There is no need to exaggerate that into suggestions that anyone should be inhibited from thinking freely, nor that anyone was jumping to unwarranted conclusions, nor that anyone was offended by the rabbi’s references to the Jewish emphasis on coupling faith with action. The original tweet didn’t suggest anything contrary to the rabbi’s comments, nor vice versa. For that matter, there is no need to exaggerate the notions of politically leftist or politically rightist to the extreme phrases “left-wing” and “right-wing”, which were not the phrases invoked originally. Presumably, the notion of “thinking freely” is also not to be exaggerated into thinking extremely or without the constraints of logic and rational analysis.

    Incidentally, Marleen, if your counter-accusation against me of employing “identity politics” has to do with my defense of Jewish particularism, than I suppose you must accuse HaShem likewise. But that is not what is usually meant by the term “identity politics”. According to Wikipedia, “Identity politics refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics are shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely correlated social organizations.”. I was using the term to refer to your invocation of a variety of groups as if each represented solely one characteristic political identity. One of your group labels, “conservatives”, obviously is a political label, though even that is not a monolithic political outlook. Others, like “rich” or “poor”, cannot be so constrained to one political outlook or to one type of political treatment. Indeed, generally it is not wise to categorize people and pigeon-hole them in conceptual boxes, and then to criticize the categories rather than to analyze and deal with ideas that may be associated with one or another category or multiple categories.

  54. PL, there are so many points on which I’l like to discuss your assertions in detail, at length. But let me just hit the main points.

    Your posts embody many of the falsehoods of the “America’s Godly Heritage” school of American history. I’d strongly urge you to read professional historians’ critiquess of that American “history” fabricated by David Barton and his followers.

    Read what real historians say: by which I mean those whose standards are verifiable facts and their honest interpretation. If your worldview is that no one but “conservatives” tell the truth, by all means read honest “conservative” historians. Read honest Christian “conservative” historians: by which I mean those whose love of truth is rooted in love for the One who identified Himself as “The Truth” (John 14:6).

    The “America’s Godly Heritage” deceit is deeply hateful to anyone who loves American history, and loves truth. If you are among that number, I’m sure you don’t wish to continue ensnared by it.

    Otherwise, I’ll limit myself to basic questions. Is there, for example, a scriptural basis for your repeated assertions that “the right is more favorable to biblical values.” If there is scriptural teaching for your believing so, what is it, please ? If there’s not, why do you believe it ? (I’d also question if that “more favorable” is a scriptural heuristic at all, as if the Bible teaches “choose the lesser of two evils:” but let that pass for now.)

    If scripture doesn’t explicitly teach we should embrace whatever “conservatism” is current in our time (it is a human ideology, after all, and constantly changing), I have to assume you base your assertion on today’s “conservatives’ ” deeds being more consistent with “biblical values.” ? If so, on what criteria do you find that faction’s (currently very manifest, and daily) character of lies, pride and unrighteousness make them more godly than other unrighteous faction ?

    Pride and lies (along with rebelliousness) are the personal character of satan himself, aren’t they ? Aren’t Christians called to “reject the works of satan”…wherever discerned, and in whatever degree ? I trust you are spiritually…rather than politically…discerning your faction’s works ? If so, why do you deem them “more favorable to biblical values” ?

    I’d also be interested in your explanation how the statement “government is the PROBLEM” is not really the “rebellion” or “lawlessness” proscribed by scripture. How are Reagan’s words not the essence of the anti-government spirit ? Having spent a few years as a convinced anarchist, I testify they are.

    That spirit is central to “conservative” thought, and pervasive in “conservative” rhetoris.. Scripture is very clear it is the enemy’s own spirit. Draw your own conclusions.

  55. PL. First of all, I have been here long enough (years) and been clear enough for you to know exceedingly clearly that I am not against “Jewish particularism.” But what do do you care?

    Apparently not at all.

  56. I have another quotation from Reagan:
    “History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”

  57. If I didn’t care, Marleen, why would I continue interacting with you? I do like your Reagan quote, though I wonder what he would have said (or maybe did say) about the cost of defense against such cheap aggression. Of course, there is also the famous quote about “eternal vigilance” as “the price of liberty” from an earlier era.

  58. PL said:

    I wonder what he would have said (or maybe did say) about the cost of defense against such cheap aggression.

    1) How many of America’s wars since WW2 have had any relationship to “defense”?

    2) Compare that number to the number of wars motivated by right wing ideology (usually supported by the “religious right”).

    And what was the cost involved with both.

    To be completely honest, I can’t think of a single war fitting category 1.

    Some may claim that the invasion of Afghanistan was in response to Sept 11 – despite the fact that the nation itself had nothing to do with those terrorist attacks, and despite the fact that Afghanistan was and remains one of the world’s poorest and most ill-equipped nations.

    Not surprisingly GW Bush first referred to the invasion of Afghanistan and his wider “war on terror” as a Crusade.

  59. I would add that it’s not only government per se (as we tend to perceive it today). Government today is a safeguard against government as imposed by those with more means over other individuals. But this has been falling apart. The approximate midpoint in U.S. history per se (from the seeds of foundation [not counting the entirety of landing on the continent] to the civil rights movement) brought us bit by bit more toward such protections. But the “conservative” impetus resented this at a certain point (really all along as we saw wording in the Constitution that is shameful to think of repeating). I was naive and foolish (and young) enough (and born at a certain time) to not see this for years (even decades I’m very sad to say). [I imagined that everyone of good will thought we had progressed… and liked or saw the value in being more egalitarian.] And now the resentment is haunting in greater and greater (and more hidden) degrees as those with more means and fewer scruples don’t necessarily care what color or ethnicity they trample as long as they get to grab up what they feel is theirs or, forget that, what they think they can get (whether favor(s) or money or other property… and even including people). This is not about being rich in and of itself [although this can make one comfortable and slumberous] but what policies we want, what ideologies for which we fall (or call). Do we tell ourselves that all is well, that there is no need for safeguards? Are we aware of what we are backing? And backing with a vote might be one thing, but arguing for it is corruptive in another sense. I would like, PL, to see you answer wakarusaguy — but actually answer.

  60. wakarusaguy said:

    Is there, for example, a scriptural basis for your repeated assertions that “the right is more favorable to biblical values.” If there is scriptural teaching for your believing so, what is it, please ?

    As an example of the desperation and duplicity of trying to justify devotion to right wing politics through misuse of scripture, I once saw someone “prove” their case that left leaning politics was ungodly by citing the separation of the sheep from the goats. The approved sheep were sent to the right hand while the condemned goats were sent to the left.

  61. …falsehoods of the “America’s Godly Heritage” school of American history

    Australia has its own version of this, related to Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, allegedly naming Australia: “Australia del Espiritu Santo” – or Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.

    In recent decades this was promoted as being “prophetic”, signalling an impending, glorious revival as Australia fulfilled its prophetic destiny.

    In fact the naming was not of Australia, but of part of present day Vanuatu, specifically its largest island that still retains the name Espiritu Santo.

    Religious myths and “histories” do nothing for the integrity of those who profess to hold to the truth. And can only be a hindrance to the gospel.

  62. Regarding “defensive” military action, Onesimus — How does one stop an existing aggressor except by greater force? Isn’t doing so “defensive”, not only for one’s own nation but for others as well? When one has the strongest military power on the planet, or the only strong one dedicated to the notion of defending the rights of others as well as one’s own, is one not obligated to respond to aggression? If there are too many aggressors, how does one choose between them? In Korea we could not succeed beyond a stalemate. In Vietnam we essentially lost, and the Vietnamese who wanted freedom, liberty, and self-determination, lost. In several subsequent skirmishes which were not of the classic nation against nation format, but guerilla brush-wars, no definitive results could be obtained besides arrangements to cease hostilities. In the first Gulf war a despot was deposed and a brief attempt at democracy began to operate; but one could say that the population as a whole was not ready to maintain it. The second Gulf war and subsequent Mideast incursions have not yet really concluded, though various terrorists have been eliminated and their organizations diminished. But the effort to pursue peace by eliminating aggressors meets an extreme challenge in this ideological powder keg, where the aggressors are willing to continue generation after generation. Already more players have been drawn into the fray, and it has the capability of escalating even into another world war, especially as Iran attempts to rebuild a Persian Empire. I wouldn’t take GWB’s use of the word “Crusade” so literally, because the USA doesn’t seek hegemony or territory, but to foster peaceful ideologies that ultimately will allow the USA not to be involved at all militarily, and will allow free commerce to flourish. The cost of all these military involvements has been high, but how much higher to fight these battles on American shores? Indeed, as the internet has allowed violent ideologies to flourish, and cross boundaries into the USA, the private terrorist/anarchist becomes a homegrown phenomenon as well. While that indicates another degree of failure for the efforts to pursue and maintain peace by discouraging aggression. one can easily enough envision scenarios that would have made it much worse much sooner. It does illustrate the need to employ a different sort of weaponry when the violence of the aggressors is fueled by a virulent ideology.

  63. Don’t worry about it, Onesimus. Whatever our troops are sent to do is axiomatically the right thing to do. No-one can question that. No matter that the overwhelming majority of those who send our troops don’t serve and don’t have children who serve. Looks cheap to them. Well, they don’t quite do it Constitutionally anymore either. (Yes, I know there was a vote on the second venture into Iraq. Lucky thing the current draft-dodger-in-chief who in no way qualifies as a thoughtful human being or leader doesn’t need a vote to drop the bomb, eh?)

    And of course they tax us [while we have to personally buy our children’s own armor] for the privilege of sending our children to war. Oh, wait. No they don’t. They cut taxes while complaining about deficits and the debt. Oh, I forgot. We’re supposed to only think about those things when they tell us to do so. Constant shell game. A tax on our children, out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Call taxes stealing but use our children while pretending there is no cost. Nevertheless (even if it is relevant), this is not why I brought up the Crusaders. It was formal logic.

    People claiming to be doing what God wants is not the same as doing what God wants. Now, I don’t go so far as to say we should be looking for God’s agenda; options like that don’t seem to be available in the world of politics (if anywhere). We make the best choice we can (or make a statement, pointless as it can seem) if we choose to vote. That’s about it. That’s not exciting or very satisfying, but real. (I looked up Barton, didn’t know about him. He seems to think we’re going to hell if we don’t vote… what a jerk. I’m not asking about him, PL.)

    It should be internalized that if one was disappointed before by a claimant, then one should not continue grasping for a proper claimant. That is unless one is of a Kingdom Now sort of theology. And, then, that’s a whole other can of worms. Beyond the passing heads of these sorts of voting-for-god movements, the participants should also look at themselves and those around them that they bolster. Hypocrisy is abhorrent and not to be overlooked. I had to face up to the vacuous (or naive or evil) state of those who’d indoctrinated me.

  64. PL, maybe you ought to do some study of military history before you comment on such issues.

    Korea – HAD BEEN WON, very early on. The North were defeated and pushed back, but the US weren’t satisfied and tried to push into North Korean territory towards the Chinese border. Naturally the Chinese weren’t happy about that and chose to push back, causing an escalation to the war that was never really resolved.

    To say “the Vietnamese who wanted freedom, liberty, and self-determination, lost” is beyond belief, The Vietnamese who wanted all of those things were the NORTH. The south was basically governed by corrupt puppets of the French and later the US.

    I’m not sure who the despot was who was deposed in the first Gulf War. Saddam Hussein, who up to that point had been the US backed tyrant remained in power until the second Gulf War, a war built on lies that totally undermined any form of stability within that country, making it ripe for the plucking by extremists like ISIS.

    And for the piece de resistance, you make this claim: “the USA doesn’t seek hegemony or territory, but to foster peaceful ideologies”
    I’m sure that the majority of non-America citizens (as well as many Americans) would shake their heads in disbelief at that claim.

    And then you say, “The cost of all these military involvements has been high, but how much higher to fight these battles on American shores?”

    And there is the disturbing reality, touching upon America’s most significant export: violence and the armaments used to perpetuate it.

    Creating wars elsewhere upon nations that were absolutely NO threat to “American shores”, because it is a profitable business for some.

    Some of the legacy of America fostering “peaceful ideologies”:

    No Gun Ri, Korea
    Mai Lai, Vietnam
    Highway of death, Iraq
    Abu Ghraib, Iraq
    “Rendition” (torture) (of prisoners from Afghanistan).
    Guantanamo Bay

    A major problem that arises when political ideologies and national allegiances compete with God’s Kingdom: you can only serve one master.

  65. Onesimus said: To repeat for about the third time what I said earlier: Righteousness can never be achieved through political ideologies no matter which way they lean.

    Believe it or not, sometimes in a text-only communications venue, it is possible to misunderstand someone’s point, however, your comment At times man’s ideologies might even be in agreement with SOME of God’s agenda (even a broken clock is right twice a day) but that partial agreement is not the specific territory of any one political ideology seems to suggest one to be apolitical or nearly so.

    I am reminded that Hashem Himself established Israel originally as the one and only Theocracy ever to exist, a nation led by the Almighty. The Torah presents all of the criminal and civil laws by which that nation was to exist, so there is one political “platform” that people did subscribe to that fit perfectly with God’s will.

    The beauty of it is when Yeshua returns, it will be that way again, not just for Israel this time, but the whole world.

    Now, having said that, does anyone remember what the main point of this blog post was about? Oh yeah, it was about how Chris Pratt tweeted he was praying for Kevin Smith following Smith’s heart attack and that many pundits on twitter (who certainly seemed to be non-religious) attacked him personally and his faith in general. This was commented on by a writer at Aish.com, which was my main information source.

  66. James said:
    “The beauty of it is when Yeshua returns, it will be that way again, not just for Israel this time, but the whole world.”

    And the key part of that is “when Yeshua returns”.
    And don’t overlook the fact of the temporary nature of that time – to be followed by a new heaven and a new earth, different to this one, a new creation without an ungodly history where only righteousness will dwell.

    James also asked: “Now, having said that, does anyone remember what the main point of this blog post was about? ”

    Clearly a point obscured when the partisan political ideology was introduced as a causative issue.

  67. James said: “seems to suggest one to be apolitical or nearly so.”

    My suggestion is that we don’t allow ourselves to align with man’s political ideologies of left and right. NEITHER of those sides is worthy of allegiance. Both have significant faults, but both sides also have some features that are good.
    By favouring one and rejecting the other we not only identify ourselves with the bad of the chosen side, we also reject the good of the other side.

  68. I’m not sure whether “ironic” is the correct term – but it seems ironic that so many Americans (particularly “religious” Americans) are so afraid of “the left” – when in reality there is NO significant left side of politics in America.
    Both major parties in the US are much further to the right than in governments elsewhere in the Western world.

    It seems McCarthyism still has ongoing effects.

  69. I think the only use of the term McCarthyism self-perceived right wingers give a hoot about lately (as if they ever cared in the sense of caring) is when they use it disingenuously as an attempted zinger to apply to thinking Americans who see the fishy behavior Trump exhibits toward Putin and Russian oligarchy — in other words, when they want to apply it toward people they call the left. Brains have been scrambled.

  70. @wakarusaguy, @Onesimus, @Marleen, @James, et al — It strikes me, as I look over the arguments here, that we have lived in two very different versions of America. One is the America of some very noble ideals, the other is an America of some very selfish and venal people. And it strikes me that one must choose in which America one wishes to live. It puts me in mind also of the see-sawing conflict that C.S.Lewis described of the England in which he lived, which he characterized by the entities he called “Britain” and “Logres”. That latter of these he associated with Arthurian ideals. He envisioned one or the other ascendant at any given time in British history.

    I’m not sure what names we might choose to characterize two comparable visions of America, but I know which I would choose to live in if I were to live in America at all. I have an advantage in that I have a lifetime of memories corresponding with the ideals of “America the Beautiful”, as well as its historical faults, that I carry with me even though I have chosen to live in the much more ancient land of which James wrote to say that he was “reminded that Hashem Himself established Israel originally as the one and only Theocracy ever to exist, a nation led by the Almighty. The Torah presents all of the criminal and civil laws by which that nation was to exist, so there is one political “platform” that people did subscribe to that fit perfectly with God’s will”. As I’m sure you’re all aware, Israel has had its own internal conflict throughout the centuries over obedience to that theocratic vision as against human selfishness; and that conflict is still raging in the modern state of Israel.

    Onesimus chose to downplay the notion of the messianic kingdom “when [haRav] Yeshua returns”, to call it “temporary” because it will, in fact, be followed by a new regime or system or creation of heaven and earth. Nonetheless, I suggest not being so facile about a thousand years of godly human governmental administration of worldwide political affairs. Indeed, I would suggest that we will need all of that as practice for working together in the righteous governmental system that undoubtedly will be established on that new earth. We don’t need to give it a great deal of thought as yet because not only is it more than a thousand years away but it is likewise distant from our historical experience during the past six thousand years. We’re not yet ready, really, to have that discussion about the administration of the new earth; and therefore we have no justification to be dismissive about this one.

    But, just as the legends of Camelot inspired C.S.Lewis, and many historical behaviors of varying British governments were likewise disappointing to him, we face a comparable problem with the USA. Its founding ideals are documented with words like “all men are created equal, … endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”. It would be virtually impossible to get more biblical than that, and yet we tolerated slavery and racial theories that denied such universal humanity. Similarly, large segments of our populace and the lawmakers they elect have managed to deny the worldview that acknowledges that “Creator” and the responsibilities that such a worldview imposes on their politics, and to deprive their fellow citizens of the right to support that worldview publicly.

    The USA was founded on notions of freedom, and the responsibility of government not to interfere with the inalienable human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of personal well-being (for which the common term in that era was: “happiness”). Indeed, the Declaration identified the purpose for which human governments are to be instituted, which was for such goals as are listed in the preamble to the Constitution: to establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide defense, and secure liberty. At the same time, this Declaration recognized the dangers inherent in overbearing tyrannical government, notably the need to dissolve the association between the British Monarchy and its (former) American colonies — not outlawry nor rebellion for its own sake — but for the purpose of securing these higher goals. Thus they emphasized rights and individual empowerment, even to the borders of anarchy with civil disobedience, as demonstrated later by abolitionists like Henry David Thoreau in his fight against the expansion of slavery into additional territory. Sometimes I think it a pity that they did not also emphasize so much the individual’s responsibilities toward one’s fellow man, or one’s fellow citizen at least, but in their era they may have assumed that such responsibilities were well-enough and commonly-enough understood already, that such emphasis was not needed. They understood the Hobbsian notion of the social contract, without which life tended to become nasty, brutal, and short. In their era, it was liberty that was more often hard to obtain.

    Which reminds me … wakarusaguy, did you read my response about Reagan’s invocation of Thoreau’s notion about the best government being the least intrusive or controlling? It is not at all a reflection of any satanic or adversarial spirit, but rather a defense of godly liberty.

    By the way, I have never had any contact with the views of David Barton. I have read key writers who contributed to the philosophy of modern western civilization, such as Thomas Hobbs, David Hume, John Locke, Adam Smith, and a few others. I do, from time to time, recommend a book by Peter Marshall, called “The Light and the Glory”, copyrighted in 1995. Nonetheless, it is indisputable that historians are human beings whose interpretations of historical data may be influenced by their political inclinations and their overall worldview. I have not relied on either Barton or Marshall but rather on statements from America’s foundational political documents. Moreover, I have presented an important distinction above, between these ideals and many American failures to practice them at any given stage of American history by individuals or by governmental policy. I assert that the failures do not invalidate either the ideals or the occasions when they actually have been implemented in practice, in policy, or in some degree.

    I should also like to note that individual liberty and security are biblical values, as illustrated by the prophetic ideal whereby each man will dwell under his own vine and fig tree , where no-one shall make him afraid (Micah 4:4). But what will folks do with such liberty and security, and the implicit prosperity that accompanies ownership of a vineyard and orchard, or similar resources of sustenance? Presumably they may pursue obedience to one of HaShem’s very earliest commandments to humanity, which was to be fruitful, to multiply, and to continue replenishing the earth. Presumably also, they ought to do so with a view commensurate with their implicit ecological responsibilities as managers of the planetary “garden” with “dominion” over it. But these activities are beyond the purview of the political ensurance of liberty and security, unless, of course, they somehow begin to interfere with someone’s exercise of them.

    What, then, of conflicts between American citizens seeking to exercise liberty? That is where law-courts step in to evaluate the goals pursued and the methods of pursuit. Here is where the distinction must be made between legitimate self-interest and illegitimate selfishness. And here again clarification of values becomes paramount as a technique to determine the most beneficial resolution of such conflicts. We have David Hume’s notion of a “felicific calculus” to consider “the greatest good for the greatest number”, or its inverse of the greatest danger to the greatest number; and the philosophical imperative of Immanuel Kant that considers the consequences of taking a behavior to its logical conclusion or extreme, such as if everyone behaved in said manner. So, liberty does not extend to individual or mass murder; it does not extend to misanthropic behavior of any kind. It is constrained by legal and moral constraints.

    And what about international relations with nations and non-national ideological groups whose actions are inimical to these American ideals? Should attempts be made to extend these ideals beyond the boundaries of the implicit American covenant? And what about enforcing America’s territorial and legal borders to protect and defend American citizens from non-citizens who have not accepted upon themselves any obligation to respect and honor American ideals, laws or boundaries? How should any American seek to apply American ideals, either within American borders or outside them? One of the constraints placed upon American governments is that its lawmakers must not impose any one particular set of established religious views as the rules of government, in order that multiple views might flourish unimpeded, not infringed upon. Consequently, the conversation about how to implement agreed and documented American principles and goals would remain free and dynamic.

    Ideally, the principles of Torah, particularly as they were abstracted for non-Jewish application by Rav Shaul in the apostolic writings, would inform and influence such freely dynamic discussions, just as they influenced the American founders. Show me, then, the advocates on the political left of the American discourse who claim to be so influenced, and I will likely be able to point out significantly greater numbers of advocates on the political right who do so, and more on the left who are inimical to such influence, solely due to the philosophical inclinations that distinguish these political poles. Now, I assert this abstractly, because I really don’t want to get into the naming of names or compiling lists of just how many folks have claimed this or that. That, to me, smacks more of the discredited McCarthyism that Onesimus invoked. Further, he claimed that the left in America is more to the right than in governments elsewhere, and not really “left” at all. I’ve previously stated that left and right are relative, and mean different things in the American context than elsewhere. So international comparisons are not really meaningful, except that the left in America does still evidence its philosophical origins in Europe with Marxist dialectics. Of course, virtually all the political philosophy in the USA originated somewhere in Europe, except for the notions that originated in the Mideast via the Tenach and the apostolic writings. Nonetheless, the combination compiled by the American founders was unique (and it still is, largely).

    Thus it is that I favor the America that is defined by its highest ideals, I discourage deconstructive criticism of it, and I encourage wherever possible the pursuit of that vision of America. Even though I don’t live there, I have relatives both close and distant who do and I care for their well-being, not to neglect their liberty and their lives. And it is only an America that cleaves to its foundational values that truly supports my nation Israel, where, oddly enough, one finds “American ideals” most truly pursued and most viciously fought by our common enemies.

  71. PL, just a couple notes before I get to the point.

    Peter Marshall’s book (I tried to read it once) is definitely derivative of David Barton’s fabricated “America’s Godly Heritage:” which illustrates the central evil dynamic of “Christian conservatism.” Barton is primarily a political manipulator: but Christian “leaders” (like Marshall) are largely responsible for the spread, and acceptance, of his lies among Christians.

    The political falsehood that “conservatism” is somehow equivalent to Christianity was primarily validated to undiscerning Christians by “Christian” leaders of the “Religious Right” (Jerry Falwell and others). It’s impossible to equate the kingdom of God with any kingdom of men: especially with any “democratic” form of human government, which is the exact contrary of the Kingdom of God (demos +kratia, “the people rule”). But many willing to ignore that fact (on political or “patriotic” grounds) are willing to accept their “religious” leaders’ “authority” for self-deluding so.

    The mutual manipulation of false “Church” and kingdom-of-men (in human terms) effected Jesus’ crucifixion: Revelation says anti-Christ will use it to his purposes in the end-times. And it’s present, and effective, in our times. Witness our current truth-less, faith-less president, whom “Christian leaders” successfully convinced 80% of Christian voters is “God’s choice.”

    With that false “conservative” = “Christian” equivalence, you also evidence the partisan spirit of Galatians 5:21: a “work of the flesh,”
    not of the Spirit. You respond to criticism of “conservatives’ ” lies and unrighteousness as if such criticism represents a “leftist” worldview. Do you really consider truth somehow a “liberal” value: righteousness a “leftist” principle ? In that case, don’t you tacitly acknowledge that falsehood and iniquity are entirely the preserve of “conservatism” ?
    But if criticism of unrighteousness and lies is on spiritual grounds, that they are works of the enemy, why do you argue for them ?

    I’d also urge you to re-think your meaning of “liberty” (including in your moniker). The word and the concept is (as you say) scriptural. Your use of it is, however, more often in the political sense used in America’s founding documents, and not in the Bible’s sense. Same word, different meanings: clear thinking requires we not confuse the two.

    But James is right that this thread is about prayer. The most important thing I’d say here is America is in deep trouble, and (as you have said) that that is a symptom whose cause is spiritual.

    So let’s pray. Let’s pray against the spirit of the enemy which seeks to destroy America (and more importantly, the Church in America). Let’s pray against his spirit of divisiveness and faction. Against the spirit of “the father of lies.” Against the spirit of pride, which God especially hates. Against the spirit of lawless, the spirit of corruption, the spirit of unrighteousness.

    We can pray those things with confidence, because it’s God’s will to destroy them (I John 5: 14). It’s God’s will to save His people from them: and He has already promised He will.

    More than what we think of the “Religious Right,” let’s ask God to swiftly effect His will toward those who are His people, and those who are not.
    Let’s pray so.

  72. PL said:

    Onesimus chose to downplay the notion of the messianic kingdom “when [haRav] Yeshua returns”, to call it “temporary” because it will, in fact, be followed by a new regime or system or creation of heaven and earth. Nonetheless, I suggest not being so facile about a thousand years of godly human governmental administration of worldwide political affairs

    1000 years is a comparatively short time in human history, and less than a blink of the eye in comparison to the ultimate future God has planned – so I can’t see how anything I said has downplayed “the messianic kingdom”. It has merely been put in perspective.

    And your long long treatise on America is of no interest to me. I have no desire to lionise any nation, or to foster devotion to any nation, and I have no interest in the expressions of devotion others may make, especially for spurious reasons.

    The USA was founded on notions of freedom

    Really?

    For whom?

    In deed or in word only? Or did it just remain a “notion”.

    American history and the American present shows how that alleged “foundation” wasn’t worth the sand it was built upon.

    To requote what I said earlier:

    “Rather than making America (or any other earthly nation) great “again(?), God is moving towards establishing His Kingdom – firstly on earth for 1000 years, and then in His everlasting new heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells.”

    We can only serve one master. We can’t serve God and …

  73. this is merely the latest (cheap) shot anti-religious and generally leftists folks have taken at people of faith.

    See how the politicising of an issue has swamped the actual issue itself?

    Pushing aside that politicisation, let’s look at the response of the “anti-religious” and what helps to fuel their “cheap shots” at people of faith.

    Too often promises of “prayer” become a substitute for actually doing something within their power that could be a practical help.

    What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

    While in the case of Chris Pratt praying for Kevin Smith, there’s probably not anything practical that he could do beyond prayer. However, it is in countless other cases where prayer was mentioned, where something practical COULD be done, that cynicism and anti-religious sentiments have been fuelled.

    So maybe put an end to promising “thoughts and prayers” in situations where something practical can be done as well as praying.

  74. Steve said:

    It’s impossible to equate the kingdom of God with any kingdom of men: especially with any “democratic” form of human government, which is the exact contrary of the Kingdom of God (demos +kratia, “the people rule”).

    Very true – but a truth that is usually ignored or dismissed because it’s not compatible with the patriotic urge.

  75. Steve said (to someone other than James or Onesimus): Do you really consider truth somehow a “liberal” value: righteousness a “leftist” principle ? In that case, don’t you tacitly acknowledge that falsehood and iniquity are entirely the preserve of “conservatism” ?
    But if criticism of unrighteousness and lies is on spiritual grounds, that they are works of the enemy, why do you argue for them ?

    Onesimus said (to James): My suggestion is that we don’t allow ourselves to align with man’s political ideologies of left and right. NEITHER of those sides is worthy of allegiance. Both have significant faults, but both sides also have some features that are good.
    By favouring one and rejecting the other we not only identify ourselves with the bad of the chosen side, we also reject the good of the other side.

    I see these (two above segments) as moving toward something practical. Even if democracy isn’t where we are headed for eternity, theocracy isn’t where we are in the present (nor complete righteousness, whether in a theocratic kingdom in the millennium or something else later — which could be the ultimate kingdom). And picking “the right” or Republicans is a problem pretty much because it’s almost like saying we have access to theocratic thinking or solutions (which we don’t because we have to question not only government but anybody else — and also because we have to respect freedoms [even if it’s not the perfect definition of freedom] where we don’t have perfection and do need to allow dissent or disagreement, even rejection of faith or choosing a different faith). We have to figure out what to do now/today/before the millenium. And taking the good from both “sides” (which does not mean pro and anti faith but can include it) and putting the brakes on both where needed requires •democracy, discussion, doing the best we can come up with.

    My original concern was to draw more attention to not downplaying either aspect of minimizing understanding and making assumptions… in our current interactions within our world and our countries. And I didn’t exactly mean right and left by “either aspect” — but various angles on the logical statement/s at the start. I tried to bring the focus back to a central point and a very simple thought that goes with it. Just plainly goes with it. Over and over. It wasn’t welcome to agree with the main point but add the reflection not to jump to a conclusion that is often designated as left and evil [by the self-appointed right] — to act in ways that could help humanity, which I actually didn’t think was controversial or difficult to grasp if I were among friends (and which was a restating of something the rabbi said anyway). So, the arena was how we proceed in the body politic (civilization), but also how we think and what we say and promote (which doesn’t always have to be part of governance for all); working all this through counts.

    • I’m using this word to get across the ways we order our societies. We aren’t straight democracies but use the label; while we vote, we also have judges and so on.

    I’ve been putting off (possibly forever, depending on what pops up before I get a chance to post) thoughts that come to mind. I’m going ahead to post something now that I wrote earlier, from a collection of things I wrote earlier (but not all of what I wrote earlier).

    PL. I have a lifetime of love for my country too. Good memories, etc. And I disagree any time someone brings up the idea of a Constitutional Convention (at which the entirety or any part could be rewritten or replaced, removed and so on). Both right and left (as I reluctantly use those terms as part of this conversation) have reasons they want such; some people, certainly not most people. I do not believe we would come out with anything even half as good. I don’t know what to make of your feeling that you have to defend the Constitution or that I am against what are usually considered American values. And people you think you are contending against have themselves said they are for biblical values, so I don’t know why you think they are arguing against them… except for this stubborn notion about the right.

    And Donald Trump is a good example of an idealistic lover of America the Beautiful? This is brutal. I live here, embarrassed and terrified by this horrible “man” [biologically he is, sure] and the people who support him (not people who just didn’t see a better option — but yes people who claim the latter but go on making excuses for him). Yet that was not what I said that was not to be understood but filibustered instead. One can not even agree [while, admittedly, having shared a very relevant and current news topic… which apparently turned out to feel threatening] with what is being called the main subject, if one did not support Trump and doesn’t say all truth (or a convincing overwhelming preponderance) resides in one political wing. Where is that Camelot’s table or whatever majestic hope is being undermined as we speak?

    I will refrain from or postpone posting some of what I’ve written prior to your latest entry that I’ve not yet posted. But I will go ahead with parts — qualifying that they are not in response to said latest entry. This first part follows upon what I said earlier on the military. [I apologize that what I’m posting isn’t polished, while the conversation isn’t either.]

    Meanwhile: private corporations and individuals, traitors and unlikely “allies” enrich themselves via war and international wranglings; sometimes with the help of non-profits/tax-free hoaxes (educational, religious, political, or otherwise). Again, our kids are pawns in this. Bizarrely, services [functions of the branches we anachronistically view as fully patriotic] are “privatized” in significant ways (but considered our wars nevertheless). Think profit (a motivation competing with national defense as well as any possible spiritual motivation).

    And arguments are put forward that all of us should buy guns (without regulations) to protect ourselves from the very government we keep arguing should be more and more militarized and defined by militarism. What kind of sense does defense against the government make when we’re talking about a supposed self-righteous undertaking of said entity to address the whole world with force?

    And I can’t figure out how it’s not obvious that the fact there was a theocracy in Israel and will be one (and the word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem) then is not the same as America being a theocracy or trying to be one now [rather than an organizing way to do some good by and for the people°]. Do you guys not see the replacement theology and repetition of huge historical mistakes in that? It takes HaShem in vain (but may serve shorter-term political desires).

    This attitude leads to the types of regimes that we tell ourselves we don’t like and that have been ungodly historically. [I’m asking people to think through the conflicting messaging.]

    ° This government “of, by, and for” the people actually matters. I said I “can’t figure out” why this is being cast aside for an imaginary theocracy. But we can see why. There are people who want to loot the place and as much of the world as they can along with it.+

    +There is also the rationalization of grandiosity (weather thought through or subconscious), largely related to Kingdom Now and Dominionism or just plain superiority.

  76. @Onesimus — Considering that human history as recorded in Jewish literature began only about six thousand years ago, I’d have to disagree that 1000 years is comparatively short. You cannot compare it to an unknown infinite future in order to treat it as dismissively or cavalierly as you have done. I wonder, though, if this attitude stems from your non-patriotic attitude to the founding ideals of the USA. When I quoted from the Declaration’s ideal or goal or principle of freedom, I was placing it in its ideal context of applicability to everyone. It is wrong to be dismissive or disdainful of ideals merely because fallible humans fall short of achieving (or sometimes even honoring) such goals. The comparable error is to dismiss HaShem’s gift of a righteous Torah merely because Jews sin and fall short of the greatness it can bring to human lives and societies. You write that you have no interest in devotion to any nation. I certainly hope you change your tune before you enter the Messiah’s kingdom, or you’ll be in a heap of trouble. Even in the present, lack of devotion to the righteous ideals of the USA can deprive you of a great deal of blessing. You are right that you can serve only one master — but no one ever said that the USA is your master, nor even its best and highest ideals. However, you cannot serve the One Master HaShem by disdaining the nation in which you live and from which you derive sustenance and protection. To paraphrase the principle and challenge offered by Yakov to show your faith without action whereas he will demonstrate his by means of righteous action: how will you demonstrate your devotion to HaShem without patriotism while others are demonstrating that devotion by means of their patriotism? Indeed, one may ask why you continue to live in a nation whose ideals you so disdain? Can you find no better nation? I suspect that you cannot. Israelis like myself, of course, face the same problem as Americans, living in a nation whose ideals exceed what its citizens can achieve. Neither nation, however, deserves anything less than one’s “last full measure of devotion”, as Abraham Lincoln described it. As an American Boy Scout, more than half a century ago, I worked hard to achieve a medal for service to “God and Country”. These should be compatible recipients of a citizen’s service, not in conflict with one another on the level of ideals and goals, and in Israel and in the USA they are not in conflict. In practice, there is always need for improvement; and seeking such improvement is a worthy and godly pursuit for any citizen.

    Returning to Kevin Smith’s well-intentioned tweet and the anti-religious backlash against it: Those who inferred that such a tweet represented an empty wish with no practical demonstration behind it had no basis to do so, and it was merely the lens of their false ideology that focused their disdain upon him. If someone would have been truly concerned about practicality, they could easily have responded to the tweet with a simple expression of hope that Kevin might soon have some opportunity to do more than offer his hopes and prayers. Such a supportive response would not disdain what was offered, and would serve as a reminder to all readers lest anyone forget the importance of supplementing prayer with practical support.

    @Steve — On what basis do you call Marshall’s work derivative? I no longer possess the book to check its bibliography thoroughly, but I found its introductory acknowledgements on-line, and they show no mention of Barton at all. I assert that you are wrong to try to dismiss this viewpoint by highlighting Barton’s failings, and that there are numerous others besides Barton who happen to have read the historical material in a somewhat similar manner. The notion of America’s godly heritage is not a fabrication, but a wholly justifiable viewpoint.

    You also rather exaggerate, in that I know of no one promulgating a “political falsehood that “conservatism” is somehow equivalent to Christianity” (especially not among the Conservative and Orthodox Jews of my acquaintance). Similarly, no one is equating the kingdom of God with any existing kingdom of men. However, the ancient Jewish monarchy, on which the Messiah’s kingdom will be modeled, had multiple centers of god-delegated authority, it limited the king’s authority with the “law” of Torah comparably to the much-later-expressed concept of “Lex Rex” in modern western political philosophy, and it even delegated to the people, in the aggregate, a responsibility in ratifying the king’s enactments and even his position as king. The Jewish king was a “primus inter pares”, a “first among equals”, a shepherd, a tribal chieftain. A modern elected President or Prime Minister is a reasonable facsimile of this role; though the Messiah will be acclaimed king on the basis of his accomplishments. The role of an electoral process in the messianic kingdom would be limited to choosing qualified candidates who may be appointed to subsidiary positions. Consequently the principles of republic rather than pure popular democracy would seem a better fit.

    The facts that Roman imperial political structures were manipulated to accomplish Rav Yeshua’s execution, and that some future “beastly empire” will be similarly manipulated to oppress and persecute in the “tribulation” period, do not mean anything directly associable with all political systems, nor with the specific system currently employed in the USA, nor with the ancient and future Jewish monarchy.

    As for your accusations about a “current truth-less, faith-less president”, it doesn’t even matter how much they may be exaggerated or inaccurate with respect to the notion of “God’s choice”. Koresh (Cyrus), the Persian king, was not a nice person, but HaShem still called him His “anointed” (i.e., “messiah”). Indeed, see Is.44:28 – “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”; and Is.45:1 – “Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut.” G-d’s choice of a political leader is not always based on his conformity with the Torah or even with common morality. In the case of the current POTUS, one of his best qualifications, as I see it, is that he is an iconoclast — willing to stand up against common political wisdoms and sacred cows. And, interestingly, he has taken at least one step in the same direction as Koresh, to recognize what should be done by his nation relative to Jerusalem.

    Gal.5:21 says nothing about “partisan spirit”, though v.20 does address factionalism. Lies and unrighteousness are not the sole province of conservatives. Criticism of such can be applied liberally all ’round the current political sphere. At no time have I defended any such behavior. All that I have said is that what conservatives seek to “conserve”, to maintain and to foster, is a righteous foundation set before us by the founders of the USA in their documented doctrines. There is no lie nor unrighteousness there. And I have said that a leftist worldview, by definition, seeks to deconstruct that foundation. It does so by lying about its existence, about its values, and about its value for current application. “Liberals”, on the other hand, too often wish to be liberal or generous with resources that do not belong to them, which is tantamount to theft. Finally, “liberty” in the biblical sense is a release from servitude or obligation that enables its subjects to enjoy their liberty in the same sense as the word is used in America’s founding documents. It is not, however, to be misconstrued as “license” — which is another concept entirely. Is that thinking clear enough for you?

    Nonetheless, I’m in agreement with you about your list of prayers with which you concluded your last post. May the Will of the Most High be done, speedily and in our own days.

  77. Within PL’s post he made reference to:

    disdaining the nation in which you live and from which you derive sustenance and protection.

    ???

    And there lies another issue!!!

    Are we really supposed to “derive sustenance and protection” from any earthly nation? Or any earthly political system?

    Winston Churchill is alleged to have said “Democracy is the worst kind of government… except for all of the rest”

    In other word’s democracy isn’t what it’s cracked up to be – but its the best mankind has been able to come up with. But God has something better.

    Thank God that if we are part of HIS people, we are part of that something better.
    We live within earthly nations as HIS ambassadors, ambassadors of HIS Kingdom and NOT reliant on anything in this world for sustenance and protection.

    We don’t look to the world’s ways and the world’s politics for answers. We don’t look to the world’s way and the word’s politics to improve the world.
    Our part in this world is to encourage it’s citizens to migrate to GOD’s Kingdom, to change citizenship.

    We are NOT going to bring God’s Kingdom to earth and we definitely aren’t going to bring the world closer to God’s Kingdom through earthly politics and allegiances to earthly nations. We are not going to bring about “theocratic” rule.

    Those things will only happen at their appointed time, when the Lord Himself returns.

  78. The right can be listened to but also criticized or asked to re-evaluate. The left can be listened to but also criticized or asked to re-evaluate. Either can be wrong about something… plus, either and both don’t amount to all there is. Besides various people (or, if you insist and I may leave alone for the moment to move beyond, the right and left) having helpful thoughts and destructive or hurtful thoughts or ideas or propositions, some people are not being genuine and are taking advantage of well-meaning participants in human conversation. [This is different from someone not always being clear enough or even sometimes being mistaken.]

  79. A couple statements, one short and one a question: First, my post and the post from Onesimus “went through” at the same time (or thereabouts…in any case, I hadn’t seen his when I wrote mine). Second, why would you say thank you to Chris, James (if you were Kevin), but avoid an Amen (due to it not being the place)? This seems to come down to personal preference on manners or etiquette.

    (As far as I’m concerned, if I wouid not pray online, as you said you wouldn’t, or even ask for an Amen as you said, I [if I were Kevin] wouid probably refrain from the thanks online as well. That is not to attribute any motives to Kevin at all, nor attach judgment or aspersion. It is in response to the very end of the opening post, the morning meditation.)

  80. “… and the blessings were delayed, according to an attendee.”

    In 2012, concerning Michael Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah:

    “After Mr. Trump arrived, he gave a speech, telling guests he hadn’t planned to come [although he had indeed agreed to attend or said he would attend], but he relented after Mr. Cohen had repeatedly called him, his secretary and his children begging him to appear….

    April 26, 2018 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    Reminds me of Mr.Trump not going to his own grandson’s bris. (Reminds me also of Roy Moore’s wife saying, with an arrogant attitude and in a snotty voice, one of their “lawyers is a Jew.”)

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