In 1 Kings chapter 2, the Hebrew Bible speaks of the bloody purge commanded by King Solomon at the start of his reign. One of the young King’s targets was Joab.
Joab had been David’s most capable commander: ruthless, zealous, and without an ounce of compassion. He seemed to be intensely loyal to the Monarchy, but that did not necessarily mean he was blindly obedient to the King. For instance, a few years earlier he had killed David’s rebellious son, Absalom against David’s wishes; and he killed a rival (and his own cousin) Amasa, whom David had appointed to replace Joab. Finally, when David died, Joab made the mistake of supporting a rival claimant to the throne, David’s son Adonijah, instead of David’s [apparent] choice, Solomon. Not a nice guy, to say the least!
Once he became aware that a purge was taking place, Joab fled to the Tent of the Ark of the Tabernacle, claiming Sanctuary as others had done before him – including David himself. Upon hearing this, Solomon ordered his new General to kill him anyway; and so Benaiah went into the Temple and slaughtered Joab there.
The modern “Sanctuary” movement embodies this same concept: we can (and should) offer sanctuary to those fleeing injustice. On the other hand, we cannot (and should not) provide sure sanctuary to those fleeing justice.
In my little New England hometown of Lincoln, Massachusetts, this very question is on the ballot in this coming weekend’s Town Meeting: shall we as a town adopt a resolution declaring we are a “Welcoming, Safe Town which resolves to make all residents, workers and visitors feel safe and secure regardless of immigration status.”
Continue reading “Compassionate Sanctuary”
Our current economic and social imbalances rob people of their dreams, and it is dreams that we need to have hope for the future. Our dreams embody our hopes; but if there is no hope then all we have is our nightmares.
The “Starman Tesla” we’ve all heard about in the news has caused quite a stir. Elon Musk’s launching of his own personal Red Tesla Roadster into space with “Starman” – a Spacesuit-clad dummy – at the wheel has captured the imaginations of many, producing innumerable new internet memes.
On the other hand, a fair number of Progressives and those involved in social justice have pointed to this as a prime example of the imbalances in today’s economy and society. They say that Billionaires like Elon Musk are throwing away money when they do things like this. They feel that this is another example of how out of balance our society is – too much money at the top, and not enough for people to meet basic needs, even for many who once saw themselves as “middle class.” And yet, going too far down that path can lead to error – as it did with Judas the Betrayer of Jesus.
Even so, they have a point: our society is out of balance.
Continue reading “Starman Dreams”
We cannot be our own judge.
“No, I am not a racist.”
The problem with self-declared exonerations such as our president recently gave is that they’re meaningless. (And no, I’m not saying that he or his administration is meaningless – far from it! But, judging the meaning of the current administration is not the subject of this posting.)
Here’s the issue: statements such as “I am not racist” originate from our own point of view. They are an expression of how we see ourselves. And of course, we are our own heroes in the reality show that is our life. So, no – we’re certain that we’re not racists. We’re not misogynists. We’re not bullies. We’re not evil. Those are negative words, about nasty things – everybody agrees they’re nasty, but we’re not nasty – so no, such nasty, negative, sad terms are not labels that can be applied to us.
In proclaiming our guiltlessness, we ignore that we cannot provide a valid and balanced judgment of ourselves with regards to the accusation that we are racist. That judgment must be left up to others, to those who are the victims of racism. Our racism (or any oppressive behavior we may exhibit) can be only identified by another, not by ourselves. We cannot be our own judge.
Continue reading “I’m Not Racist?”
This is not a cock fight. Neither I nor a few billion other people care one bit whether your “button” is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s, or not.
You took an oath to protect us and our government: you swore that every single action you take while in office, and every single word you speak, will be done with the best interests of us and this country in mind. Everything you say and do is a reflection of us, and of who we are and what we stand for as a nation.
To act as you have done here is an abdication of your responsibilities and duties as President. Threatening nuclear war in such an offhand and unthinking manner in response to a blusterous comment (from a two bit dictator who has delusions of grandeur) elevates your opponent and degrades you and your office … and our nation.
We hired you. You work for us: not the other way around.
Shut up and do your job.
And never forget: it isn’t your button, it’s ours.
– Pastor Allen
Copyright (c) 2018, Allen Vander Meulen III.
What do we mean when we say “all men are created equal”? And, who gets to decide what “being equal” means?
It seemed appropriate for my final post here for the calendar year 2017 to focus-on and reaffirm the ideals that I see as central to my walk as a Christian (and indeed, for all Christians). Then ask how those ideals should (or at least can) be applied within the context of the issues of the present time.
Let’s begin with some well known quotes…
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
– Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
– The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)
The well known maxim “All men are created equal” is itself is a corollary of the First and Second Great Commandments as stated by Jesus…
[One asked] “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” [To which Jesus replied] “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
– Matthew 22:36-40 [The Message]
“All men are created equal” is the foundational principle upon which this nation is built. Putting that principle into practice is at the heart of the entire purpose of the Constitution and Laws our forefathers crafted for themselves (and us). And, “All men are created equal” is the standard by which all of our laws, regulations, court decisions, ideologies and leaders must be judged. It is the standard that lights our way in times of confusion and discord.
Continue reading “All Men Are Created Equal?”
Here’s why I have no patience for conspiracy theories, and come down hard on those who unthinkingly repeat them…
With conspiracy theories, everything The Other says is assumed to be a false front for a hidden agenda.
The Other has no recourse, no ability to challenge what is being said, because anything they say is assumed to be in support of the conspiracy, even if what they say is objective fact or truth.
The Other, and everything they say, is judged as invalid (if not evil) even before they say it because they are seen as invalid for being (or believing in) the conspiracy.
Such thinking led to the deaths of millions of Jews (and others) in World War II, not to mention many other massacres of Jews and other minorities throughout history, all over the world.
Such thinking led to the U.S’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, and to the Vietnam War in the 1960’s and 70’s.
And yet, we all do this. Continue reading “Conspiracy Theories”
About the GOP’s proposed tax reform…
The talk is all about how we need it to stimulate investment and therefore boost the economy.
To this, I have one question: When is the last time you handed out money, no strings attached?
If you want a particular result, you hand out the money with conditions. We call these “performance guarantees.” Look at any contract, you’ll see them there. Nobody in their right mind makes large financial commitments or investments without firm guarantees that their money will be dedicated towards producing the agreed-upon result.
Continue reading “And Tell Me How This “Tax Reform” Makes Any Sense At All?”
I can understand a church’s desire to protect its’ people. We’ve seen far too many massacres at churches (or anywhere, for that matter). But, despite that reality, threatening more violence in reaction to violence doesn’t even remotely approach having anything to do with the teachings of the faith.
When relating the story of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemene, Matthew 26:52 tells us that when a disciple sought to defend Jesus from those arresting him:
…Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Continue reading “Violence Begets Violence”
Several Boston media outlets are reporting this morning that Federal immigration officials arrested 50 people in Massachusetts as part of a nationwide sweep focusing on what they called “sanctuary” jurisdictions…
Said one ICE official: “This [is] a concerted effort to target those locations where we don’t get the cooperation from those agencies. We need to put additional resources into these locations to make these arrests.”
In other words, the Federal Government is stooping to bullying those who are acting to protect innocents from the current administration’s cruel and racist immigration policies: hoping to beat such dissenters into submission.
Continue reading “An Incoherent Bully: thoughts on the GOP, ICE, and Sanctuary Cities”
A great deal has been made in the last year or so of NFL’er Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem. I thought it might be useful to understand some of the reasons why he does so.
For one, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner’s lyrics, was a slaveowner.
For another, read the original verses of the song for yourself, particularly the third and fourth verses…
Continue reading “Racism and The Star Spangled Banner”
While passing through Mississippi back in 1987, I took the opportunity to spend a day visiting the Vicksburg National Military Park there. I’ve long been a student of the Civil War and its impact on our country. I knew a fair amount about the Siege of Vicksburg and its importance in the War; and was excited at this, my first opportunity to visit an actual Civil War site.
It wasn’t what I expected. In those days before the internet, getting detailed information and images for places of interest was not easy or straightforward – especially when driving across the country on a more or less random vacation journey. So, I was a bit taken aback by what I saw there: a long trail looping around both sides of the siege tench that surrounded the hilltop that is the heart of Vicksburg. Every few feet along that trail is a historical marker – some small, some large: telling where and when particular military units and individuals were at that spot during the siege, and any actions of note that occurred there.
It has the feel of a huge cemetery, which is what it is: a monument to all those who bravely fought and died on both sides in a bloody and prolonged battle that was a major event in a war that has been over and done with for more than 150 years. Over 1400 monuments, memorials and commemorative plaques can be found in the park.
Many of the Civil War battlefields I’ve been to in the years since have a similar feel, such as Gettysburg, but none of those I’ve seen provide a detailed and profound narrative that comes close to what I found at Vicksburg.
Continue reading “Mourning an Uncivil Past”