Archive for April 2014

Brief History of Christianity   Leave a comment

Christianity started out as a faith … NOT a religion. Jesus and all of His early disciples were Jews. The Jews of 1st century Palestine were hyper-religionists. The Law of Moses had been so refined over the preceding centuries that it was now a violation of religious law to move a chair on the Sabbath because you might create a furrow on the dirt floor of your home and that might be considered plowing, which was a violation of Sabbath laws.

Christianity changed all that. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. People need rest for physical, mental and spiritual reasons, and God provided that through the institution of the Sabbath. That didn’t mean that it was such a holy day that you couldn’t move a chair across the room or heal a blind man.

Later, but within a year or two of Jesus’ death, Peter would receive a vision from heaven that set aside all the Jewish dietary laws, thus allowing him and his fellow believers to interact with Gentiles. Peter was inconsistent in following this new liberty, but Paul and his missionary network made much use of it, to the point where the Jerusalem Council recognized that Gentiles could become Christians without submitting to Judaism first (Acts 15, AD 49).

Christianity spread through the Mediterranean world rather rapidly. The day of Pentecost in Jerusalem saw many Jews from around the Med accept Jesus as Savior through the preaching of Peter and the ministry of the disciples. Those new believers took their new-found faith with them as they journeyed home. Paul’s ministry out of the church in Antioch further spread the gospel.

Christianity faced intense persecution during much of its early history because it utterly rejected any form of polytheism. Christians, like the Jews before them, utterly refused to bow knee to Caesar as a god. The Romans were fine with other religions, but demanded respect of Caesar and so Christians were immediately in conflict with the Empire. Despite the persecution, Christianity continued to spread. It was an attractive philosophy for the poor because it promised equality in the afterlife, though not in this. It taught that there was no difference before God between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, slave and free, male and female. Within the churches, a slave was equal to his master, but also taught to be obedient as a slave and not to seek his freedom through violent means. Conversely, it taught slave masters that the slave was his brother in Christ and deserving of respect and maybe even freedom. (Philemon) It allowed a place for women to have a voice as well and taught that husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the church … to the point of death.  At the same time, it taught forgiveness for past sins, which made it an extremely attractive philosophy for soldiers. Paul reported that there were even members of Caesar’s own household who were Christians.

By the time Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire, Christians may have accounted for 20% of the population and its influence was showing. Christians abhorred the practice of leaving infants exposed to the elements and frequently rescued the children and raised them as Christians. They staffed clinics and hospitals to care for those inflicted by plague. The slavery system that Roman society was founded on was faltering because so many Christians had freed their slaves that the slaves of other Romans were growing restless. The Roman Empire itself was struggling, beset by barbarian attacks and struggling to feed the many Romans who didn’t think they needed to be productive.

Constantine claimed he had a vision of the Christian god granting him victory in a battle. Maybe. Or maybe he just looked around and saw a large percentage of the population who were productive members of society not on the verge of revolt and were characterized by cooperation within their communities, which were everywhere in Roman society by this time. Recognizing that persecution wasn’t working to eliminate the threat of Christianity, Constantine opted for a different tactic … legalization.

So how did going from a persecuted and illegal minority to being allowed to worship openly screw up Christianity?

The love of money is the root of all evil ….

 

Opinion: DOT’s highways to nowhere   Leave a comment

Opinion: DOT’s highways to nowhere | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper.

In my ongoing commitment to highlight Alaskan issues, here is yet another take (albeit a muddled one) on the Juneau Access Road, which is indeed a road to the middle of nowhere.

HINT: The comments are more salient than the opinion piece.

Posted April 30, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Aurora Watcher   Leave a comment

aurorawatcherak

My screen name, Aurora Watcher, was given to me by Syun Akasofu, former head of the International Arctic Research Center, a foremost expert on the aurora. More than 30 years ago, I interviewed him when he was a professor at the Alaska Geophysical Institute and as we were winding up the interview, I mentioned having heard the aurora. He dismissed my claim, saying that there was no way to hear sounds from the ionosphere because it was so far from the biosphere. I was a journalism major and not qualified to argue with this great scientist, but I did point out to him that I had heard something on multiple occasions, sometimes with other people, and once my dog had heard it too. He kindly held fast to his science. We agreed to disagree.

Years after I graduated, I met Dr. Akasofu again. He immediately recognized me as “the aurora…

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Posted April 29, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Romans 13 in Context   Leave a comment

For most of European history, Christians were taught that the government was divinely appointed. No matter what  government did, Christians were to treat it as just and fair and support it wholeheartedly because Romans 13 said we must. There is no distinction made in Romans 13 between “good” rules and “bad” rulers or “fair” laws or “unfair” laws. There’s not even an out for objecting to oppression.

That is … if you take the verses in Romans 13 all by themselves ….

That’s not how Paul wrote them and it’s entirely possible that it was not how he meant them. Paul wrote the letter to the Romans as a letter and what we deem Chapter 13 is just a convenient way of breaking up a large body of text. If we go back further in the letter, we can find where the subject he’s discussing starts. Chapter 12 ends with the admonition “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Romans 12 talks a lot about the Christian’s love for one’s neighbor as one’s self and strongly warns Christians not to resist evil with evil. We aren’t just to love those who we find loveable, but to bless those who persecute us; “bless and not curse.”

Then we reach 13:1 where it says there is no authority except that instituted by God and that Christians are to be subject to the government authorities. Governing authority is, according to the Net Bible translates as “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases, leave or permission” (and only talks about government rule in the fourth definition). The NET Bible was translated and the site is administered by textual critics from the Dallas Theological Seminary. The word translated “be subject to” actually carries with it two connotations. In the military sense, it means to arrange or subordinate under the command of a leader, but in the non-military sense, it means to have a “voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating to share a burden.”

Is it possible that this passage of Scripture has been deliberately misinterpreted and given that militaristic sense in order to co-opt Christianity into the governing systems?

Outside Editorial: Quick fixes won’t work; we need consumer-friendly health care | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper   Leave a comment

Outside Editorial: Quick fixes won’t work; we need consumer-friendly health care | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper.

Posted April 28, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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Compromise gives Knik Arm bridge to DOT, makes KABATA operator – Alaska Journal of Commerce – Breaking News 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Compromise gives Knik Arm bridge to DOT, makes KABATA operator – Alaska Journal of Commerce – Breaking News 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

Free Book to Read   Leave a comment

Full Cover

http://authonomy.com/books/58057/a-well-in-emmaus/read-book/#chapter

-Prosecutor Nullification vs. Jury Nullification   Leave a comment

The next time someone speaks up against jury nullification, ask their position on the FAR MORE COMMON prosecutor nullification.

via -Prosecutor Nullification vs. Jury Nullification.

The prosecutor is employed by the state. In Alaska, the judge is an appointed official subject to decadal voter retention — employed by the state. In many cases, the attorney is a public defender — employed by the state. In a trial, the only people who are not taking a paycheck from the same outfit that is prosecuted the defendant is the jury.

But the fact that most cases go to sentencing without ever being heard by a jury should concern us even more than that. An entire system conspires against the accused. We may think the public wants these laws that make certain activities criminal because our elected representatives enact the legislation, but that is not necessarily the case. If they knew that some of these laws would put their kids in jail for simple things like — for example — deciding to sleep in their car rather than drive home drunk — would they be that in favor of the law? But there’s no way to say it’s a bad law. Once it’s been enacted, good luck changing it, even if you know about it — until you get to the jury room and then you hold the power to nullify the law … assuming the case ever got to you.

‘The gas line is coming’   Leave a comment

‘The gas line is coming’: Leaders have touted it before, but Alaskans need to remain optimistic about a project – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

Is it?

It’s been 40 years and we’re still waiting and this is not on the best alignment. It’s “carrying water to the wetlands” rather than to the desert. Anchorage doesn’t need the gas, so what the heck are we doing routed the gas to Anchorage? Fairbanks, Glennallen, Ft. Wainwright and Eielson need the gas and there is a dock in Valdez that could begin exporting as soon as we get federal okay to do so.

But, maybe we’re closer than we’ve ever been to a gasline, even thought this may not provide affordable heating to the Interior, which should be of much greater importance to our legislature than making Anchorage feel like it’s the center of the Alaskan universe.

Forward we go … let’s hope it works out.

Posted April 25, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Treadwell for Senate – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Letters To Editor   Leave a comment

Treadwell for Senate – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Letters To Editor.

Posted April 25, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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