Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hurricane Danny at the door -- ETA EC, Monday morning

Hurricane Danny is knocking at the Eastern Caribbean's door:


As Weather Underground's blog explains:
  • Hurricane Danny has begun its long-anticipated weakening. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 100 mph as of 5 a.m. EDT Saturday.
  • Danny was located about 740 miles east of the Leeward Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.
  • Danny will track west-northwest, reaching the Leeward Islands Monday, then Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday.
  • A weakened Danny should bring welcome rainfall to drought-stricken Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Danny peaked as a category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds up to 115 mph Friday afternoon, becoming the first major hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.
WU goes on to explain and to caution:
Wind shear vs Hurricane Danny as it approaches the EC
Danny has started to move into an environment with more wind shear, or change in wind speed with height either in speed and/or direction, and this has caused the hurricane to be downgraded from Category 3 to Category 2 intensity . . . . Small circulations such as Danny are prone to sudden changes in intensity, which can be difficult to forecast.

(MORE: Track Danny with our Interactive Storm Tracker)

The large-scale atmosphere Danny is moving into, as well as its potential track over land areas of the Caribbean, will induce further weakening the next several days.

Danny will encounter an ample reservoir of dry air extending westward into the Caribbean Sea.
Dry air hampers tropical cyclones by encouraging the development of stronger thunderstorm downdrafts, which then either squelch nearby thunderstorms from forming or push them away.
This dry air is also stable, meaning it suppresses upward vertical columns of air needed to maintain or form new thunderstorms.

Danny is also moving into what has been so far this season a figurative Caribbean "wall of wind shear". According to tropical meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, wind shear over the Caribbean Sea had been at record levels from mid-July through mid-August.

Wind shear can blow convection away from the center from a tropical cyclone. If strong enough, it can rip apart existing tropical cyclones.
 In short, we would be well-advised to follow developments and to bear in mind the particular unpredictability of small tropical cyclones.

However, before closing, I want to note that Daniel is a very significant name: God is [my] judge.

And Jesus once warned leaders of Israel that while they were good at judging the signs of the skies, they were failing to properly judge the spiritual signs of their times.

DV, I will follow up on that side in a little while, a hurricane named Daniel is speaking to us, even as we all have a strange blend of hope and concern as it approaches: hope for rain to relieve a terrible drought that is seeing coconut trees dry up and die here, something I have never seen before. Concern, as hurricane winds can be astonishingly destructive.

We have not only signs in our skies but signs of our times to address.

Let us pray for showers of blessing with not too much wind. END

Friday, August 21, 2015

1 Chron 12:32 report, 117: The challenge of change and signs of our times

Recently, I have been thinking about how hard it is to make change happen in organisations, governments and communities, and especially on how we tend to lock in business as usual (BAU) until it is almost too late -- "almost," if we are lucky:



I think two Greek terms that frequently pop up in the New Testament are relevant {Let's u/d w links to Bible Hub, Aug 23}, kairos --> opportunity or season, etc.; and krisis --> break-/decision- point of judgement (for good or ill) . . . as in, in a trial, etc.  (There are echoes of pistis, too --> faith, as confident trust rooted in [soundly arrived at . . . ] conviction taken as a warranty from credible source that guides confident action and hope for success due to the trustworthiness of the source of the warranty. [Cf. our implicit trust in a high quality dictionary.] Also, metanoia is relevant --> a morally freighted transformational change of mind, heart, purpose from evil and/or folly towards the right, just, wise and true.)

Given how circumstances are never static, our environment is always changing, leading to opportunities and threats. These may or may not match well with our strengths and weaknesses . . . and yes, I am using the SWOT concept here. 

The thing is, that as the above diagram shows, opportunities tend to come as windows that open and may shut, so business as usual may become increasingly out of touch with reality, leading to an adverse trend and perhaps exploding into a crisis as things break and maybe go over the cliff. By definition, in a crisis, one has lost control and there is danger of the cliff edge collapsing under us -- of, a disaster.

There is never a guarantee that we can back away from a cliff- edge in time:




So that gives warning-signs extreme importance.

And, it means we should prize the sensitivity and/or strategic insight that allow one to read and respond in good time to the signs of the times -- as opposed to locking out, dismissing or even killing our prophets through the very bad habit of shooting at the messenger who brings bad news. Or, whose report threatens our comfort-zone or power-base.

Four scriptures speak to me on this:
1 Chron 12: 32 Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.

Matt 16: 1 . . . the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them,[a] “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

Acts 17: 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for“‘In him we live and move and have our being’ . . .

Rev 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 

22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” [ESV]
I believe that in our day, the influential or powerful voices in many organisations, churches, communities, governments and nations have become so self-satisfied, so caught up in getting or being wealthy and comfortable, so polarised against others, so wise in our own eyes that we have lost sight of the signs of our times that would otherwise lead us to realise that we need to change.

And, I must -- with fear and trembling -- say this more: I fear that we are in danger of being caught up in the spirit of Laodicea, locking out our Lord and being deaf to his knock and his voice.

More broadly, we need to add to our analysis tool-boxes the strategic management concepts of a business as usual track, a window of opportunity (a kairos), warning-signs, and the possibility that we are approaching a crumbling cliff edge that can make delay fatal.

So, we need to think in terms of strategic change to a more robust, more sound, more sustainable alternative, based on a SWOT analysis and strategy alignment exercise:



Especially, as we contemplate the circumstances our region, communities, governments, organisations and our churches (also the wider civilisation) now face. 

Before I close off, as a thought-sparker, let me pose the 3-4-5 good governance & risk/hazard management challenge to decision-makers and leaders:




And, DV in coming days and weeks,  I intend to address what I think is facing us in more details.

As ever, the Mordecai challenge confronts: why not now, why not here, why not us? END

Monday, August 03, 2015

Matt 24 watch, 268: Todd Starnes debates on the media outcry over killing Cecil the Lion vs the unresponsiveness to revelations that Abortionists are butchering aborted unborn children to sell their body parts for "medical research"

Some points in history become moments of truth, a day of kairos -- too often unrecognised at the time -- where we must either walk towards light or darkness. 

So, the juxtaposition at this moment between the media headlined outcry over the illegal shooting of Cedric the lion vs the attempts to discredit and dismiss the citizen journalism expose of Planned Parenthood's ongoing sale of body parts of unborn children slaughtered in their taxpayer-funded clinics exposes the endarkened, conscience-benumbed heart of our civilisation at this time.

Well did Isaiah cry out:

Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes,
19 who say: “Let him be quick,
    let him speed his work
    that we may see it;
let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
    and let it come, that we may know it!”
 
20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
    and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    and deprive the innocent of his right!

24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
    and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
    and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
    and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.


Well did Jesus warn:
 Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body.
So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Well did Paul Counsel:
 Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 

18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 

 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [All, ESV]

Todd Starnes is right to raise the issue in a Fox News video exchange: click the link to watch.

Here is a video short by Starnes that focusses the issue, on YouTube:



(Somehow, we seem to have forgotten that a significant number -- thousands -- of Concentration camp inmates were used as subjects for medical experiments by Mengele and others, actually providing major medical science advances . . . I recall discussing this with medical students in my hall of residence in my undergrad days. The profession of medicine found itself in the dilemma of having to use tainted knowledge and spent decades replicating the results through ethically clean research. The baby body parts for sale issue seems to be shockingly similar. And, I find it significant about the agenda of the elites that dominate news, views and opinion media in our civilisation,  that seemingly almost no one dares make the obvious connexion in public in the face of the major media cameras and microphones. After all, that would only get you dismissed as a wild-eyed crank. Let us ask about one of the things that came out after WW II: what did all the good Germans living next to the Prison Camps think when they saw the trains heading to the camps and saw and smelled the smoke plumes from their crematoria? 

 There is a world-famous picture of a woman at a tour of shame at a just liberated camp where the people of a nearby city, Weimar -- yes, the very city the failed Weimar post WW I Liberal German Republic overthrown by the Nazis was named after --  were forced to see for themselves what had been going on at Buchenwald, through a tour of shame:




Do we dare say: enablers of evil?)

Broadening this, it seems to me that a lot of the headlined, drumbeat issues and sidelined issues we see today follow a pattern of distraction from inconvenient facts, issues, cases and evidence multiplied by drumming in the message of a favoured agenda.

For similar instance, the Iran nuke deal and its implications should be a major scandal, but it is not. That, speaks volumes.

Food for thought. END

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Matt 24 watch, 267: Yale's Diplomat in residence Charles Hill and Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, warn of consequences of the Iran "deal"

Charles Hill speaks (article):



His conclusion is striking: "[the US has] handed over our leading role in the Middle East [to Iran]."

The unwisdom of such in light of Iran's global track record since 1979, is patent.

Caroline Glick, Editor of The Jerusalem Post, is equally sobering:
the damage caused to the nonproliferation system by American weakness toward Pakistan and North Korea is small potatoes in comparison to the destruction that Tuesday’s deal with Iran has wrought.

That deal doesn’t merely show that the US is unwilling to exact a price from states that illicitly develop nuclear weapons. The US and its allies just concluded a deal that requires them to facilitate Iran’s nuclear efforts.

Not only will the US and its allies remove the sanctions imposed on Iran over the past decade and so start the flow of some $150 billion to the ayatollahs’ treasury. They will help Iran develop advanced centrifuges.

They even committed themselves to protecting Iran’s nuclear facilities from attack and sabotage.

Under the deal, in five years, Iran will have unlimited access to the international conventional arms market. In eight years, Iran will be able to purchase and develop whatever missile systems it desires.

And in 10 years, most of the limitations on its nuclear program will be removed.

Because the deal permits Iran to develop advanced centrifuges, when the agreement ends in 10 years, Iran will be positioned to develop nuclear weapons immediately.

In other words, if Iran abides by the agreement, or isn’t punished for cheating on it, in 10 years, the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world will be rich, in possession of a modernized military, a ballistic missile arsenal capable of carrying nuclear warheads to any spot on earth, and the nuclear warheads themselves.

Facing this new nuclear reality, the states of the region, including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and perhaps the emirates, will likely begin to develop nuclear arsenals. ISIS will likely use the remnants of the Iraqi and Syrian programs to build its own nuclear program . . . . 

After all, now that the US has capitulated to Iran, its avowed foe and the greatest state sponsor of terrorism, who will take future American calls for sanctions against nuclear proliferators seriously? Who will be deterred by American threats that “all options are on the table” when the US has agreed to protect Iran’s nuclear installations and develop advanced centrifuges for the same ayatollahs who daily chant, “Death to America”? For Israel, the destruction of the West’s nonproliferation regime means that from here on out, we will be living in a region buzzing with nuclear activity. Until Tuesday, Israel relied on the West to deter most of its neighbors from developing nuclear weapons. And when the West failed, Israel dealt with the situation by sending in the air force. Now, on the one hand Israel has no West to rely on for sanctions or deterrence, and on the other hand, it has limited or no military options of its own against many of the actors that will now seek to develop nuclear arsenals . . . . Years from now, perhaps historians will point out the irony that Obama, who loudly proclaims his goal of making the world free of nuclear weapons, has ushered in an era of mass nuclear proliferation and chaos.

Israel can ill afford the luxury of pondering irony.

One day the nuclear Furies Obama has unleashed may find their way to New York City.

But their path to America runs through Israel. We need to ready ourselves to destroy them before they cross our border.
[read it all]
Patently, the international system of stability is coming apart through a gross failure of leadership, as Charles Hill noted.  This particularly holds for nuclear non-proliferation and other weapons of mass destruction. And the spread of such arms to irresponsible or unstable states should give any sober-minded person serious pause.

Given the precedent of the collapse of the League of Nations in the 1930's in the face of rising aggressive states, that should give us sobering pause. Especially as the logic of other Western states is likely to be that if the US lacks the will, they can do little but follow the strategic surrender of initiative to Iran. Russia and China, likely, see themselves as profiting from a Western geo-strategic withdrawal.

The predictable consequence is war, including much amplified terrorism.

The difference is, this time, nukes are plainly in play in the same unstable Middle East that is the main oil supplier to the world.

The world is sowing nuclear dragon's teeth. END

Friday, July 17, 2015

Earthquake cluster off Barbados July 16 2015

There has been an earthquake cluster off Barbados on July 16, at least one of which was startling to people there.



Heads up. END




Thursday, July 16, 2015

Matt 24 watch, 266: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's warning regarding the Iran Nuke "deal"

Video:



Transcript, clip:
The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday.

The leading international powers have bet our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism. They've gambled that in ten years' time, Iran's terrorist regime will change while removing any incentive for it to do so. In fact, the deal gives Iran every incentive not to change.
In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran's terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing . . . . 



Amazingly, this bad deal does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way. And just last Friday, that aggression was on display for all to see.

While the negotiators were closing the deal in Vienna, Iran's supposedly moderate President chose to go to a rally in Tehran and at this rally, a frenzied mob burned American and Israeli flags and chanted 'Death to America, Death to Israel . . . 
 Why are we so blind, why are we so forgetful of hard-bought lessons of history regarding aggressive dictators? 

I can only conclude that in many influential circles our civilisation has become suicidally self-deluded -- something that growing attitudes to sex, family, morality and principle tend to reinforce. END

Monday, July 13, 2015

Matt 24 watch 265d: Shirley Richards and Ravi Zacharias provide a perspective on the "Christian homophobia/bigotry" accusation and the insinuation that principled objection to homosexualisation of marriage is the moral equivalent to racism

Current series: 1, 2, 3, 4 - this

Sometimes, regardless of whether you are interested in a cultural civil war flash-point, that flash-point is interested in you. Especially, when one is being willfully branded with the false accusation of the moral equivalent to racism.

It is in that context that a response by Atty Shirley Richards in the Jamaica Gleaner (tellingly, published in the notoriously low circulation Saturday issue) came to my attention, e.g.:
Same-sex 'marriage' requires changing the male-female prerequisite, which goes to the very core of marriage. In the first case, an unreasonable limitation - which in the Loving case [of banning inter-racial marriage] was racist in nature - is placed on the man and woman who can enter the institution of marriage, but in this case, the very nature of marriage itself is being changed.

The reference to the Loving case prompts a comparison between the civil-rights struggles of African-Americans and the homosexual debate. However, there are differences between the two. One such difference is that race is immutable, while being homosexual is not immutable. [cf here] Ask Donnie McClurkin, Dennis Jernigan and others who have left the homosexual lifestyle. As others have said, "Being gay is not the new black." . . . .

In another incident, Fox News reported in 2014 that "the city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city's first openly lesbian mayor. Those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court." (LINK provided. Note, this is a case of blatant censorship.)

Describing same-sex 'family life' as "a life which harms no one else" is like ignoring an elephant in plain sight. How does one explain the fact that this "life which harms no one else" is reordering society in its image? What about harm to the individuals themselves? Shouldn't the society be concerned about undeniable medical statistics on the consequences of high-risk sexual behaviour for the participants?

It should be clear to all that the homosexual lifestyle is not a harmless one, neither to the individual nor to society. Furthermore, it is not a lifestyle that is prepared to stay in the bedroom but, instead, insists on forcing itself into the centre of the public square
In this context it is not insignificant that Mrs Richards' support for marriage in accord with the naturally evident Creation Order was re-labelled by the Gleaner's Editor as advocacy of "opposite-sex marriage." By their Orwellian new-speak shall ye know them.

I should add a comment I had to make overnight at UD when the issue was again raised:
. . . the notion that complex human behaviours above things like reflexes and breathing are genetically or otherwise programmed beyond choice is quite problematic, especially when implications for responsible rational freedom are brought to bear. I suggest a comparison of the 12-step addiction recovery methods and movements is helpful (noting that vulnerability to alcohol may have a genetic component), as would be this text. We should be very wary indeed of any scheme, notion, ideology or movement — whether or not it is dressed in a lab coat — that would undermine human responsibility and the point and hope that conscience-guided reason linked to supported moral discipline and recovery methods sustained across several years can lead us to walk in a better way. There are many, many, many cases of successful transformation of people in bondage to all sorts of addictions, dependencies, and destructive lifestyles. A truth that seems to be very politically incorrect and widely suppressed today. Let me just say finally for now that 60+ years ago Alcoholics Anonymous was mocked and derided by the experts and media, especially when a co-founder backslid. But now, its approach, on long significant success, has become a widely respected and adopted model. Teen Challenge is similar. Though of course if you don’t want to have to fight for your life to get off the barbed hook, don’t bite on the seemingly tasty fly floating by.

Further to all this, noted Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias, answering a question, provides food for thought:



We would do well to ponder where our civilisation is headed:



Then, we need to ponder also, what we should do. END

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Matt 24 watch 265c: F/N2 . . . a possible homosexualist intended endgame for the cultural civil war

Brent Bozell points out an "obvious" onward homosexualist strategy in America (with implications far beyond the USA):
We've already seen the first signs of businesses punished for failing to participate in gay marriage ceremonies, with six-figure fines and barrels of negative publicity. [--> not to mention mobs baying to punish the "heretics" from political correctness.]

The obvious next step is forcing churches to participate in gay marriages, and if they refuse, it will be time to revoke their tax exemptions. [--> which effectively de-lists as a church and opens up further more ruthless measures] Shortly after the latest court decision, Time posted an online commentary advocating the end of all tax benefits for religious organizations. Naturally, it will follow that churches and religious groups will also be forced to employ people who in no way share their religious beliefs. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy claimed in his majority opinion that "The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths." But if the Democrats win the White House again, it's obvious they will appoint more liberal justices that share their obvious devotion to steamrolling "religious freedom" -- which they now routinely put in scare quotes. 

For decades the media have tilted dramatically in favor of gay lobbies. They have won. What next? No one expects the media elites to tap any brakes as America heads over the cliff.
Out here in the Caribbean, we have already seen emissaries sent out to try to "deconstruct" the "texts of terror" in the Scriptures, in Barbados and Antigua -- hosted by the US Embassy.

That should be a warning and wake-up call on what is in store.

Especially, when I saw a microphone snatched away from someone asking a reasonable question, refusal by "New Testament Scholars" to address Rom 1 and 1 Cor 6:9 - 11, walkout and abrupt termination when reasonable questions were asked.

The easy days are over. END

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Five-year oil price trend:

Oil price trends are a key economic indicator. So, it is worth noticing a snapshot of the oil price widget for the RH column of this blog:



This looks like a change to a new level after several years in the US$ 100+ range. 

But this level is about double the about US$ 30/bbl that hitherto obtained. 

It is also a level that supports fracking and shale oil, which would be locked out at the lower level. 

A clue -- given the economic concept that prices are set at the margin -- as to what is likely driving this. END

Matt 24 watch, 265b: F/N . . . The Communist Manifesto (1848) on the Family and linked, Neo-Marxist Critical Theory driven thought

Last time, we cited a discussion by Kengor on the longstanding  hostility of the radical left to the family. 
(Let me add, Jun 29: I am not trying to paint all on the "left" -- whatever that is these days -- with a tarred brush, I am providing documentation on troubling roots and how such has explicitly played out in examples of radical thought up to current times, examples that come up early and easily in Google searches so can be taken as indicating a real phenomenon. If the result is unpalatable, yes it is, but it is part of the reality we must now face as we look at some pretty radical and likely ruthless social engineering of marriage, family, education, media, policy, law and more that "are already in progress." In short, I am saying we all need to pause and think again in light of what has now been put on the table and where it so dangerously -- even, menacingly -- points. Or, in the form of a question: Do we really, really want to go down this road as a civilisation? Do we know where it is likely to end? Are we really, really, really sure we want to go there?)
As a key step of documentation, here is a clip from the Communist Manifesto, 1848, on what Marx and Engels derided as the bourgeois family (and on linked childhood education):
Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.
The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.
Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.
But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.
And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, &c.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.
The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.
But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.
The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.
He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.
For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial.
Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.
Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private. 
 This is a capital example of irresponsibly setting up and burning a toxically laced strawman caricature to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. A wife and mother simply is not a "private prostitute," likewise, it is patently false that the family in the industrial era or any other would simply be founded on "capital, on private gain." Nor is "community of women," either the general rule or a reasonable answer to challenges with the family. And, that some men may be adulterous does not address the natural bonds of husband and wife, mothers, fathers and children, or the underlying governing moral principles long since classically stated by Jesus of Nazareth, in reply to a challenge about divorce:
Matt 19:He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” [ESV]
What God joins, Marx and Engels would obviously separate, and they would seize upon public education to twist it into a means of indoctrination, forgetting the similar grim warning about he who would cause a child to stumble.

We may go a bit further, by citing University of Michigan philosophy professor Daniel Little's summary on links to Frankfurt-style critical theory and feminism (with implications for lesbianism etc), as one illustrative sample:
Neither Marx nor Engels offered a coherent statement of socialist feminism, and neither offered specific commentary or criticism of the political, social, and economic disadvantages experienced by women in nineteenth-century Europe. 
 
However, the fundamental themes of social criticism that Marx puts forward—alienation, domination, inequality, and exploitation, and a critique of the social relations that give rise to these conditions—have clear implications for a theory of gender equality and emancipation.  First, Marx’s theory of alienation is premised on assumptions about the nature of the human being, involving the ideas of freedom, self-expression, creativity, and sociality (Marx 1964 [1844]) .  The situations of everyday life in which patriarchy and sexism obtain—the situations in which existing social relations of power, authority, and dominance are assigned on the basis of gender and sex, including marriage, the family, and the workplace—create a situation of alienation and domination for women.  Second, Marx’s theory of exploitation (expressed primarily in Capital (Marx 1977 [1867]) ) extends very naturally to the social relations of patriarchy.  Patriarchy and the bourgeois family system embody exploitation of women, within the household and within the workplace. Finally, Marx’s strong moral commitment to the overriding importance of social equality is directly relevant to a socialist feminist critique of contemporary society. The unequal status and treatment of women is an affront to the value of human equality.  Thus Marx’s principles lay the ground for a formulation of a socialist feminism.
Likewise illustratively as an example, Stephanie Coontz of Solidarity ("a socialist, feminist anti-racist organization") writes:
Engels correctly recognized that the subordination of wives and the growing independence of the nuclear family from larger kin networks were associated with the development of private property, but he had an idealist interpretation of the reason for this "world historical defeat of the female sex"--men's desire to pass wealth onto their own biological sons. As Plekhanov later pointed out in The Role of the Individual in History, an economic interpretation of history is not the same as a materialist interpretation of history, because analysis remains at the level of people's motive and ideas, merely substituting a cynical assessment of intentions for a utopian one . . . . 

Marx and Engels accepted the Victorian assumption that most sexual and gender interactions were part of nature, and that nature was of a lower order than culture. They correctly noted that the first social division of labor was between men and women, but wrongly equated this with sexual intercourse, suggesting that the division of labor in the family was "natural." Accordingly, they concluded that the division of labor became "truly" significant only when a split between mental and manual labor appeared. They thus failed to incorporate gender relations and sexual systems into their theory of productive forces and social conflict . . . . 

Under capitalism, Marx and Engels argued, only labor that is exchanged against capital is productive labor and produces value. If the good is not sold, however, its value cannot be realized, or even be said to exist. The social labor that went into making the good becomes trapped in the unsold commodity. In consequence, human cooperative endeavors are disguised and controlled by the exchange of things.

Meanwhile, the most important kinds of work that humans do--nurturing, for example, and many other "family"-type activities--produce no value under capitalism and are therefore marginalized and denigrated. The implications of this theoretical breakthrough for family analysis are profound.
The second contribution of Marx and Engels to the study of families was their dialectical insistence that social relationships, not just technological forces, lie at the heart of class analysis. In The German Ideology Marx suggests that "a certain mode of production, or industrial stage, is always combined with a certain mode of co-operation, or social stage, and this mode of co-operation is itself a `productive force.'"

Modes of cooperation--or coercion--are critical in defining class and understanding social change. And families, along with other socially constructed relationships such as race and gender, are central mechanisms for organizing cooperation and coercion. They are also sites of contradiction in the Marxist sense--places where inherent oppositions occur that are necessary to perpetuate a particular process or social system, and yet also undermine that process or social system.

These insights point the way toward a deeper and richer understanding of families and their meaning in the lives of working people today. Male privilege within the family is real, for example, but men support women and children at a level beyond which the latter could reproduce themselves in this society (as post-divorce statistics on poverty show) at the same time as they appropriate work and deference from them.
All of this, of course reflects neo-marxist style critical theory, with its focus on identifying centres of exploitation and pretensions to provide a liberating critique and superior socialised, state-backed "solution."

Yes, there are tensions in marriages and families, and men too often have been abusive or oppressive. On the other hand, the history of the past 100 years has shown that the state out of control has been far more destructive, as the ghosts of over 100 million murdered by the state tell us. The sin problem -- that which seemingly must not be named -- is an ever-present problem. And in any decision-making situation that cannot tolerate deadlock, decisions have to be made, pointing to the role of leadership balanced by the need for partnership and mutual respect. Where, the dismissiveness to the biology of reproduction and the patent need for committed nurturing, disciplining and protective stability speak volumes.

It is worth a pause to reflect on some thoughts by Larrey Anderson at American Thinker:
. . . work for the male is a biological, psychological, and even philosophical necessity for the preservation of the family.

Once his participation in coitus is over, the man plays no biological part in the creation of his offspring. Unlike the woman, who carries her baby to term and then nourishes the newborn infant at her breast, the man's role in the family is necessarily ideal. He is biologically and psychologically separated from the procreative process. The man needs a reason to stay with his wife and family. If he is to remain with his family, his role (at least initially) can only be that of provider and protector [ii].


The surest and quickest way to eliminate the family is to make certain that a young man (who might wish to marry and start a family) does not have access to a job. This ensures that the young man has no reason to remain with an impregnated female.


It is not by accident that over 70% of black children in America are born out of wedlock. Almost 50% of young black men in America are unemployed. And without a job, a man has no incentive to start or remain with his family.
________________
F/N: [ii] This does not mean that a man cannot eventually become the caretaker of his children and his wife become the provider -- or that the tasks of provider and caretaker cannot be shared. But the man's initial role in the family, during and shortly after the procreative process, can only be that of provider and protector. Otherwise, there is no reason for a man to stay with his family. Men cannot give birth.
In short, the creation-order family based on the covenantal, one flesh union of husband and wife leading to childbearing and upbringing, is a reasonable answer to our biological, social and cultural challenges. One that is as imperfect in actual cases as any institution based on finite, fallible, sinful and morally struggling human beings in need of redemption and godly transformation will inevitably be.

Which of course invites cynical critique, but we have no good reason to imagine that the radical alternatives being offered are any reasonable improvement. Homosexualism, transgenderism, the divorce and remarriage game, or having children out of wedlock all fail the test.

So, in the end, we are back to Jesus' warning: what God has joined, let not man put asunder. END

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Matt 24 watch, 265: Understanding the homosexualist redefinition of marriage as a sign of our times

In Matt 24, of course our Lord, Jesus . . . the now crucified, buried and risen, exalted Messiah . . .  speaks of how -- even as the gospel of the kingdom of God goes forth as a witness in power to all nations -- we will face widespread deception, chaos, polarisation, hatred and even outright persecution:
Matt 24:As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 

And Jesus answered them, See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [ESV]
It seems we are now patently moving on to the second wave of birth-pains, a shift to a fundamental polarisation and hostility that targets those whose loyalty is to the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. Driven, by deceptions that put lies for truth and dismiss the truth as lies, put wrong for right and call right wrong, and more in a topsy-turvy chaos of moral confusion.

In that context, I must reflect on the US Supreme Court ruling yesterday that its freedom of religious objection clause seems to be subtly defective. For, as Matt Barber notes:
The majority opinion emphasized that this newfangled “right” to “gay marriage” should not be construed to trump religious liberty:
“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”
I’m not na├»ve. We’ll have to see what this actually means in coming years, but when filtered through any honest reading of the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause, what it means is that Christians cannot be forced to violate their conscience through compulsory participation in, or recognition of, counterfeit “gay weddings” or “marriages.”

Ever.

Of course there’s nothing honest about the five liberals on this court, and Chief Justice Roberts makes that point in his dissent. He expresses skepticism as to the majority’s sincerity: “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage,” he writes. “The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise‘ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage,” he continues. “[W]hen, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court.”

Little doubt indeed.

As many of us have long warned, all this “gay marriage” nonsense was never about “marriage equality.” It was, and remains, a spiritual battle camouflaged in the formal attire of judicial and public policy wrangling. It was always about forcing Christ’s faithful followers, under penalty of law, to abandon biblical truth and embrace sexual sin. The goal of “LGBT” activists and secular progressives has long been to pit the government directly against the free exercise of religion – Christianity in particular – and to silence all dissent . . .
The problem here is first, that there is a difference between speaking and acting on convictions. This is multiplied by a circumstance where . . . in a context of might and manipulation making "right" manifest in the law-twisting that has already happened to manufacture this counterfeit right . . . words, however promising, fall under the cynical proverb that "a promise is a comfort to a fool."

So, smooth words like this offer little or no comfort.

I see, that US Sen. Ted Cruz has suggested: “In order to provide the people themselves with a constitutional remedy to the problem of judicial activism and the means for throwing off judicial tyrants, I am proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would subject the Justices of the Supreme Court to periodic judicial-retention elections.”

That offers some hope, though perhaps a forlorn one: it is quite difficult to get an amendment through, and the existing provision of impeachment seems to be effectively broken.

A deeper level of analysis reflects on how the Kingdom of God interacts with the key institutions in the kingdoms of man, as the discipleship mandate seeks to teach the gospel-truth and call for a gospel-based lifestyle. It will be convenient to look at the seven mountains simplified picture of the resulting challenge to fill all of life with the grace, light and blessing of Christ:


We are clearly looking at a clash involving Government, the Media, Education, Family and Religion. 

One, where Bible-based Christian Faith took a major governmental defeat yesterday, one with global consequences given the  significance of the USA. (For us in the Caribbean, we must realise that there is a point to the saying that if the Americans sneeze, we get flu.)

Underlying, is the issue of worldviews and cultural agendas driven by long run intellectual forces.

For that,  prof Paul Kengor of Grove City College, has some sobering thoughts:
The typical American who supports gay marriage has friendly motives, looking to extend a new “right” or new “freedom” to a new group. I get that. I don’t agree, but I understand. Unfortunately, these Americans don’t realize that, for the far left, gay marriage is the Trojan horse to achieve what the earliest communists called the “abolition of the family.” To many Americans, gay marriage is about “marriage equality,” but to the far left, it’s about the final takedown of the family that it has long desired . . . . 

I very carefully state that this isn’t a conspiracy. I want to be clear on this. Liberals, please do not caricature me and my argument. We do a disservice to the truth when we boil down complex things to simple caricature. However, just as we can easily overstate things, we can also easily understate them, and to do the latter, likewise, would be a mistake here.

What the left has steadfastly said and written and done to marriage and the family over the last two centuries cannot be ignored. Those actions have been undeniable contributing factors – along with many other factors – that in part help explain where we are today.

Same-sex marriage is not a Marxist plot. It is, however, a crucial final blow to marriage – the only blow that will enable a formal, legal redefinition that will unravel the institution . . . .  [W]hat the left has steadfastly done to marriage and the family over the last two centuries – from Marx and Engels and early utopian socialists like Robert Owen and Charles Fourier to modern cultural Marxists and secular progressives – cannot be ignored. The current rapid redefinition of the male-female marital and parental bond that has undergirded civilization for multiple millennia is the end-road of a steady evolution that should not be viewed entirely separate from some very successful attacks by the communist left and radical left generally. The journey had many prior destinations. A people do not just one morning wake up and ditch the sacred and natural character of the male-female marital union that served their parents, grandparents, great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. Ground had been plowed to ready this soil . . . .

Anyone advocating something as culturally unthinkable as male-male or female-female “marriage,” in any time other than ours, from the ancient Greeks and Romans of 2,000 years ago to the Democrat and Republican parties of just 20 years ago, would have been laughed at – maybe even hauled off by the authorities as dangerous public menaces. Marx and Engels were under surveillance by the governments in their countries simply for arguing for non-monogamous marriage. Even gay people weren’t thinking they’d soon live in a culture where not only was the mainstream population supportive of gay marriage but where liberals – our great champions of “tolerance” and “diversity” – would be suing, picketing, boycotting, demonizing and dehumanizing a Baptist grandma who begs them not to force her to make a cake for a gay wedding. Marx and Engels and even wild cultural Marxists like Herbert Marcuse and Wilhelm Reich – who broke down sexual barriers in areas like homosexuality and bisexuality – would be rolling over in their graves. Nonetheless, they would be thrilled to see that every-day (non-communist) Americans have finally found a vehicle to assist the long-time communist dream of (to quote the Communist Manifesto) “the abolition of the family.”
The late Francis Schaeffer (with adjustments and extensions) helps us develop a deeper understanding of even deeper civilisational roots, through his line of despair analysis:


That is, when nature is made autonomous from grace creating a split-level world in which the world of thought locks God out, nature gobbles up grace:



This then leads us to the challenge of costly prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership:



We now come full circle to Matt 24: those who profit from or are locked into a lifestyle that depends on a worldview in rebellion against God, will often find such a challenge utterly unwelcome and in too many cases will react with hostility. 

It is then all too tempting to resort to blame and shoot at the messenger tactics, projecting their own hostility on those who challenge a culture of hell-bent sinful marches of folly heading for disaster.

Again, God loves and seeks to redeem the world, through Christ.

Thus, we need to recognise that we have spiritual cancer, sin.

A devastating diagnosis, and one that calls for radical spiritual surgery, starting with facing the truth of the diagnosis.

Clinging to a fatal disease is absurd.

But, absurdity is at the heart of deception.


Where, we need to recognise also that truth is not hate, it is truth -- the only sound basis for hope . . .  however painful and unwelcome the prospect of spiritual surgery is.

This brings the issue of standing for the defense of the truth of the gospel to the fore.

Peter:
1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you . . .

And again:
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.  

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Paul:
2 Cor 10: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [who is "the way, the truth and the life . . . "]

Jesus, in grim warning to the deeply deceived:
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
And of course, many have been led to dismiss the gospel. Let me again call attention to some reasons for the credibility of the gospel, including inviting us to watch:

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel from Slaves4Christ on Vimeo.


Truth and right under God are now on the table, and in a context where the degree of polarisation just shot up by a quantum leap. 

So, the question is in the scriptural challenge: today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

Like unto this, we must burn into our hearts a classic diagnostic text of warning and of hope:
1 Cor 6:Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
_________________
F/N c: 1 Corinthians 6:9 The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts

(And this book may help those caught up in the notion that same sex attraction and behaviour are genetically in-stamped unchangeable behaviours. In a nutshell, such media-spread, lab coat clad myths are far from the truth and never had serious evidential basis. We are, after all responsibly free, morally governed creatures. But, that points straight to God as the IS who grounds OUGHT, and for too many any absurdity is preferable to such unpalatable truth. But what is credible and well warranted as truth has little to do with what we may wish were so. Truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. Truth puts us in contact with reality: sin-cancer may be unpalatable truth, but if we are to survive spiritually, we have to face the diagnosis and act on it.)

So, now, we are at kairos, and must face a decision, individually, as families and communities, as societies and as a civilisation: we are diagnosed with sin-cancer, what will we do about it?

For sure, blaming and attacking the messenger telling us we have to face the diagnosis, undergo radical spiritual surgery then recovery and reformation of life is not a reasonable response.

If we are wrong, show us how.

(But note, millions of us can show the healed spiritual scars and testify as to successful treatment by Dr Jesus.)

The day of decision is upon us, and so far we are weighed in the balances and found wanting.

It is time to face and act on -- not attack -- the truth. END