Archive for April 2015
Last week, Thom suggested I had an “unusual” view of history. This is my response.
That “unusual” view of history could be viewed as the side not written by the winners, Thom. I’ve read Rise and Fall, but I’ve also read Christoper Hitchen’s Blood, Class and Empire and Blood, Class and Nostalia. The two books combined are an excellent treatice on the entanglement of the United States with England and deals with how England and our leaders manipulated us into both World Wars by turning the default non-intervention stance of the American people into a pro-war stance through the use of propaganda to play on our fears and engender anger toward Germany. We all want to believe that our side is the “good” side and it is sometimes illustrative to look at an event from the other side … especially if the other side is deemed the enemy by our government. That different perspective may help us see truths we’ve been ignoring for far too long.
Let’s set one thing straight. I never said Hitler was a 10 year old boy during World War I. I said many of the Germans who supported him in World War 2 were young children during World War 1 and what they went through in that earlier war set them up for World War 2. Hitler was a madman. If I could go back in history to execute him before he became Fuhrer, I would gladly do so. My sympathy is for the German people who were as much manipulated by him as the American people were by Wilson and later Roosevelt, Johnson, both Bushes and the current occupant of the White House.
No leader can prosecute war without at least some tacit backing from the citizenry. Hitler needed the Germany people to populate his army, maintain the economy and guard the concentration camps. But would they have been willing to do so if there’d been a negotiated peace with the Allies in 1917 rather than a unilateral surrender in 1919? The only reason why the latter is actual history and the former didn’t happen is that the United States entered World War 1 just as Britain was running out of resources and would have needed to negotiate. This is what made World War 1 different from previous European wars. Britain could demand a unilateral surrender and crush Germany because the United States had resources Germany couldn’t touch or blockade.
If there’d been a negotiated peace, Germany would have been just another country in Europe, enjoying the fruits of economic well-being during the 1920s, instead of paying crushing reparation payments to England. It wouldn’t have needed the loans the United States provided to prop it up, so its economy would not have crashed when our collapse required ending those loans. Like England, France and Canada, who suffered through brief depressions after our stock market crash, Germany would have recovered in months rather than years and Hitler might not have seemed so attractive. I’ve read Mein Kampf too and only people who feel absolutely trapped in a struggle not of their own making could ever embrace its crazy-town concepts.
There’s no strong historical evidence that Germany had planned for war when Archduke Ferdinand was killed. They were sucked into the war by their treaty obligations with Austria (which ought to be a cautionary tale for us). And, by the way, had Austria not annexed Bosnia, the Serbians wouldn’t have wanted to kill the archduke, This was a tale of interventionism gone wild. Had the United States stayed out of World War I, we might not have developed and then introduced the world to a particularly destructive form of propaganda. President Wilson campaigned on a platform of American non-intervention. He probably would not have been re-elected if not for the theme “he kept us out of war.” Yet, right after his second inauguration, he hired New York Times journalist Walter Lippman and psychologist Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud) to develop a propaganda campaign designed to brainwash the American public into entering the war on the side of Britain. This was necessary because of the large percentage of the US population who were either of German or Slavic descent (thus sympathetic to the Germans) or Irish (thus opposed to almost anything England did).
Wilson saw opportunity in the European war. Using the fear of war in his 1st term, he’d already rammed through the Federal Reserve, income tax, and re-segregation of the armed forces. One of his early second-term accomplishments was issuing Executive Order 2594 which set up the Committee on Public Information (CPI), whose sole purpose was to generate propaganda to create public support for US entry into the war. The CPI used censorship, coercion and even mass arrests to silence opposition groups. It circulated posters showing German soldiers bayoneting Belgian babies (Belgium was neutral). All this was designed to make Americans afraid that “the Hun” was about to devour American women and children like some raging beast. The laudable and long-standing American concept of non-interventionism was recast as irresponsible isolationism.
Not too surprisingly, by 1917, the public who had abhorred the European war was now clamoring for our entry. Thus softened up, all that was required was a galvanizing event. Wilson issued a line-in-the-sand statement that Germany had better not attack any US ships. The Lusitania was a British ship laden with a 173 tons of munitions provided by JP Morgan. The German high command placed ads in the New York Times warning that the Lusitania was carrying arms and that they intended to sink the armament-laden Lusitania to protect its national interest. The British admiralty had also warned that the Lusitania ought to stay out of the area. The Wilson administration should have known it was going to be hit, but they never issued a warning, so the American public thought it was safe. Viewed with a skeptical mind, it sure seems like Wilson knew what he was doing, that his administration manipulated the American people into willingly going into a war that a year before they wanted nothing to do with. It’s important to state once again, international law did not allow combatant nations to blockade ports to prevent food stuffs from entering. They could stop armament shipments only, but England had maintained a blockade of all goods for nearly two years. With their people starving the Germans were desperate.
It should also be noted that the Lusitania and the 173 tones of British war munitions she was carrying went to the bottom of the ocean in May 1915. The US Congress did not declare war until April 1917 … after Wilson had won the 1916 presidential election. That hardly seems as if they “had no choice.” More like it made a convenient propaganda tool to push us toward a war the people of the United States didn’t want. The public outrage you speak of had died down by the election, Wilson’s keeping us out of war was a primary campaign point and then … suddenly, we had to go to war. I don’t buy it.
So, let’s talk about American post-World War II interventionism.
The CIA involvement in the Ukranian Orange Revolution is well-known, by the way. Considering what we did in 2004, it seems reasonable to suspect us of doing it again. But let’s be honest here. The US doesn’t just destablize leftist regimes. It has been instrumental in the destruction of many democratically-elected regimes that were deemed not pro-American enough. The US propaganda machine convinces us that these regimes are evil, but the fact is that many were elected in free elections by the citizenry of the country who wanted to control their own resources rather than be dictated to by American corporations or the American military. These people did not elect the United States to interfere in their country’s internal affairs, but we have done it time and time again.
The problem with treaty obligations is that we run the risk of being Germany circa 1914. One of our allies does something stupid — invades Russia in a territorial tug-of-war over Ukraine, for example — and now we’re obligated to enter World War 3. When I was taking foreign policy seminars in college, one of the scenarios we discussed was a Middle East color revolution whereby the United States and the USSR ended up facing one another over a country like Syria. The world would take sides and threats would be hurled. Then some minor actor on one side of the other would do something idiotic — kill someone’s prime minister, perhaps. Because of treaty obligations, we’d have to issue sanctions or invade that country. OPEC would embargo American oil shipments and now we would have no choice but to attack or energy starve. The USSR would come in on the side of OPEC and there would be World War 3.
Of course, the USSR collapsed and fracking was developed so that when the color revolution happened in the Middle East, it wasn’t (or isn’t yet) that precipitating event, but it still has that potential. It would seem that our CIA fomenting a revolution might easily lead to a multi-national war, which means treaty obligations that can come back to bite us quickly enough. When our CIA works to destablize a country like Ukraine, what is it up to? When our president draws a verbal line in the sand with Syria, it sure sounds like he’s trying to get us into a war.
We were fortunate with Syria that the US Congress was less than energetic about starting that war, but western society has been here before — circa 1914. If North Korea pisses off South Korea or Japan irritates China or Putin’s planes fly too deep into Alaska air space … and once that big war has started, the nuclear war you keep saying we need to avoid through US intervention around the world becomes a great deal more likely.
What would be so wrong with neutrality? It has worked for Switzerland for almost 200 years. Switzerland is an international porcupine — heavily armed for its own protection, but not messing with other nations. It has been instrumental in the peace process of several international hostilities while not actually suffering any wars itself.
You haven’t convinced me that our aggressive attitude toward other nations really provides stabilization or if it actually risks destabilizing the world. Especially as we are now facing economic implosion due to mounting debt, at some point someone has to ask — when we no longer have the capacity to act as the world dictator, what then happens to the world? Might it not be better to ease off our role as international meddler par excellence now, while we still have the capacity to bow out gracefully?
Always being on a war footing invites war. In fact, it encourages our leaders to find wars to involve ourselves in or to create conflicts by destablizing regimes so we can have an excuse to use our muscle. While I see the logic behind maintaining our web of bases just in case something happened, I can’t help but wonder if those web of bases are not viewed as occupying forces that will one day become a focal point for rebellion.
No one likes a tyrant and we sure do act like one.
Thom Stark is the author American Sulla, an apocalyptic thriller series. Lela Markham is the author ofTransformation Project, an apocalyptic dystopian series. Both these series look at America following nuclear terrorism.
Last week, Thom responded to my double-post and this week we continue the conversation on interventionism.
Thom Stark is the author American Sulla, an apocalyptic thriller series. Lela Markham is the author of Transformation Project, an apocalyptic dystopian series. Both these series look at America following nuclear terrorism.
Chaos changes everything!
Shane Delaney, a burned-out mercenary with a troubled past, returns home to small-town Kansas to heal his scars and quiet his demons, not planning to stay long enough for the townsfolk to reject who he has become.
He never expected the town to need his deadlier skills.
When a terrorist attack on distant cities abruptly transforms life as they knew it, the people of Emmaus must forget their own disaster plan to survive.
What would you do if the world as you know it ended today?
The people of Emmaus will find out.
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is a very unusual read. I enjoy dystopian books a lot, and Lela Markham’s take on the apocalypse did not disappoint. The book is written in chapters that are short and switching from one character to another, which is never boring and which gives us a full picture of what is going on. The author shows the characters’ feelings, emotions, doubts well, which makes them true-to-life and easy to relate to. I especially enjoyed reading chapters from Shane Denaley’s point of view.
The life of a small town of Emmaus transforms abruptly when terrible news comes from large cities. That – together with great characterization – was my most favorite aspect of the book. I enjoyed the way the author shows as the world collapses – the attack, then the state of not knowing what is going on, what is going to happen next. It’s well done and realistic. I’d recommend it to lovers of dystopian novels.
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is book 1 in Transformation Project series and I look forward to reading the next book.
KINDLE BOOK ON AMAZON US
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lela Markham is the pen name of an Alaskan novelists who was raised in a home built of books. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits.
Lela has been a journalist, worked in the mental health field, and currently works for the State of Alaska, but her avocation has always been storyteller.
Her first published book The Willow Branch begins an exploration of the world of Daermad where a fractured kingdom leaves two races vulnerable to destruction by a third and opens the opportunity to mend old wounds. Lela drew inspiration from Celtic mythology, Alaskan raven legends and the Bible to craft a tale of war, faith and reconciliation. And, don’t forget … Celtic goddesses, sentient animals and dragons.
When not writing stories, Lela reads political philosophy, economics, history, mysteries, fantasies, science fiction and the backs of cereal boxes and enjoys speculative tales on TV. For variety, she quilts, tackles home improvement projects, hikes the Alaskan wilderness well-armed against the wildlife, and holds blackbelts in cold weather living and mosquito annihilation. Oh, and aurora viewing … it’s all about the aurora watching.
Lela shares her life with her adventuresome husband, two fearless offspring and a sentient husky who keeps a yellow Lab for a pet.
You can stalk her at:
Or reach out old-school at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s interview is with Sarah Wathen, through Elite Promotions and I plan to post some reviews of Life As We Knew It.
Rahab was a harlot who lived on the walls of Jericho, the great fortress city blocking the Israelites from entering the Promised Land.
In Joshua 2, we read the story of how she received the Hebrew spies into her home, confessed that she believed the God of Israel because she had seen the evidence in the Israelites prior victories. She hid the spies, then lied to the city guards who were looking for them, she then gave them vital intelligence on how to avoid the search parties and let them down the wall from her own window. For that, she was told to post a scarlet thread in her window so that the Hebrew armies would know not to kill her and her family.
Rahab the Canaanite whore, survived the fall of Jericho, married a Jewish man named Salmon. They founded the village of Bethlehem, where Ruth the Moabite widow, met Rahab’s very honorable son Boaz. Their son Obed was King David’s grandfather. You know King David — who had an affair with Bathsheba, who later gave birth to Solomon, who became king of Israel.
Rahab, who James, the brother of Jesus and pastor of the Jerusalem church, wrote was justified by works (James 2) while the writer of Hebrews said she was justified by faith (Hebrews 11), was a prostitute and the Bible doesn’t shy away from that. She wasn’t operating a bed and breakfast. She was trading sex for coin.
Rahab is not the only believer in the Bible with soiled hands. It’s one of the things I love about the Bible — that it contains real people — people who act in ways that are utterly human.
She might have been a prostitute, but she knew the news — there was an army headed from across the Jordan and it was winning in the name of the Hebrew God. Maybe because she was a prostitute, she may have heard more about it than the rest of the city. She believed the stories. She believed that this God was greater than her Canaanite gods. When the spies needed hiding, she chose a side. The letter of James, which was probably the first New Testament document written, asserts that she performed works for God and this conveyed justification — cleansing from sin. James was a Jewish Christian writing to other Jewish Christians upon hearing that they were straying from Jewish teachings. The 1st century Christians esteemed what he wrote highly enough to call it Scripture. Rahab risked her life for the cause of God and He rewarded her through the Hebrews.
But she didn’t just do that. She raised an incredible son (Boaz) and founded the village Jesus would be born in. In fact, she was one of Jesus’ physical ancestors. After Jericho, she ceased to be a prostitute and became a woman of faith, respected within the Jewish community. Nobody forgot her past. We know her as Rahab the harlot, saved by works and by faith.
Yes, faith. Hebrews lists her in the roll call. Think about the faith it took to judge that this army of sheepherders could bring down the massive fortress of Jericho! She acted upon what her heart said was true even though her physical senses probably told her she was crazy. Isn’t this what Christians do — obey God despite what the physical evidence insists is true? Rahab the harlot was a believer, a pre-Jesus faithful, according to the writer of Hebrews.
Despite her past, Rahab became a pillar of faith and works and this new pattern in her life continued into her future. She no longer plied her trade as a harlot. I have to wonder if she was ever tempted … if good money was offered … if times were sometimes tough ….
Some people don’t like the Bible’s bald-face dealing with sin. There is actually a school of Bible scholars who have tried to translate Rahab’s occupation as hostess, not harlot. Yes, she was running a bed and breakfast, not a house of inequity. They do this, probably, because they are scandalized by Jesus having a sinner in his family tree. I think their attempt to rescue Rahab’s reputation diminishes her value as an object lesson.
God can save anyone and does. He touched Rahab while shew as still a prostitute and since the spies told her not to tell anyone else what she knew, it’s a good guess that she didn’t stop her work while she waited for them to return. Being a Canaanite, she may not even have recognized prostitution as sin. But at some point, she came out of Jericho and chose to be a Jew, to live a Jewish lifestyle and to raise faithful children. Boaz’ treatment of Ruth strongly indicates that he knew how to treat a woman with honor.
I wonder how many people in Rahab’s life called her a hypocrite for living a moral life after Jericho? You know there were people who would never let her forget who she’d been. I imagine the Corinthian church member who was fornicating with his father’s wife pointed his fingers at those who confronted him about his sin. “Hey, Joe, didn’t your wife leave you when you became a Christian and now you’re married to another woman? Hey, Jill, weren’t you a prostitute when you became a Christian? Hey, John, didn’t I see you at the temple eating meat sacrificed to idols?” You wonder how many people he called hypocrite before he repented. And when he was called to confront others on their sin, you know they brought up his past behavior.
So someone on Facebook calls us a hypocrite for obeying God in some areas and falling short in others. Welcome to the Jericho Bed & Breakfast where the proprietor was a prostitute, but she still obeyed God by helping His spies escape and her half-assed compliance with God, motivated by a half-understood faith was counted to her as righteousness by a God Who wants our obedience more than our sacrifice and Who knows our hearts far better than we do.
This is my public policy post on this subject. I’ve actually said this before in different words and the more I hang out with anarchists, the more I find myself agreeing with them.
The Bible is very clear that homosexual behavior is a sin. It follows that the commitment ceremonies gays insist upon calling “weddings” are public declarations of ongoing sexual immorality. The Bible tells Christians to FLEE sexual immorality because it corrupts our relationship with God. It is worse than other sins because it involves our own bodies. From those two facts, I judge that God is telling Christians that we may not encourage the homosexual activity of other humans. For the sake of our own relationship with God AND for the sake of the homosexuals we come in contact with, we must NOT participate in their commitment ceremonies, even as an unwilling caterer, photographer, florist, etc.
The Bible also teaches me that I am responsible only for myself and members of my local church. Nobody becomes a Christian by forced conversion. They may become a Christianist, but that is not a true relationship with Jesus Christ, which is what true Christianity is. My faith teaches me that I should always evangelize wherever I go, but it is not me who brings people to Christ. He does that.
So how does that connect to a public policy statement?
Christians need to recognize that we live in a very secular world and we can’t do anything about that. Stop trying to legislate morality. It doesn’t work and it just hardens people against the gospel. I firmly believe that if we stopped trying to use the government to force people to do things our way and concentrated on being friendly, loving, and firm in our beliefs and practices informed by those belief, we would see a sea change. People would be more willing to come to the Lord because they would understand that He is not a dictator and we are not His minions.
Think about that.
To secularists through the United States – I don’t want to persecute you. Everyone has the right to believe as they want and, to the extent that we are not harming others or depriving them of liberty, to live as they wish.
Tolerance in liberty is a two-way street. Your liberty depends on my liberty and mine depends on yours. If you try to force me to participate in the sin of others, I’m going to say “NO!” My resistance is not a form of hatred, but an expression of love. I may not completely understand why God condemns homosexuality, but it is enough for me to know that He who created mankind does in fact say it is a grievous sin. Just as I would not sit down for a beer with an alcoholic because that would be harming the alcoholic, I won’t attend or cater the commitment ceremonies of same-sex couples. Yes, they have a right to commit to one another, but I have a right to not participate.
When you force your ideology on others, you force them to have an opinion on the subject. You’re welcome to your opinion about the practice of my faith, but you are not welcome to force me to violate it. If you don’t want me to resist your sin, don’t ask me to participate in it. That’s tolerance. We BOTH have the freedom to live our lives without interference from the other. Anything less is tyranny.
And this is where the public policy statement comes in.
Government is not the answer to our problems and it is rapidly becoming the source of tyranny. A marriage license is a secular non-religious document – a contract. It does not create a marriage as God understands marriage.
Christian marriage is an institution of the churches. The 1st Amendment makes clear that the government should have no power to tell churches what they can and cannot do regarding Christian marriage, so why have we given the government that power? Nothing prevents us from “hand fasting” before our churches and entering into “marital contract” with one another. My parents did … my mom still being unable, because Alaska was still under federal law, to get a divorce from her husband, contracted with my dad to own houses together, to receive his life insurance policies, for power of attorney for end of life decisions and for custody of me. It worked out better for her than a marriage license because with a contract, she had actual rights and he had actual obligations. They weren’t Christians, so theirs was a wholly secular decision, and it worked — in the 1960s when almost nobody was doing it.
But I’m a Christian with libertarian leanings and I want my political philosophy to be in line with God’s laws. It might surprise you to learn that God doesn’t say you have to have a government marriage license. For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families … or two individuals, like my mom and dad. For 16 centuries, Christianity defined marriage based on a couple’s wishes. If you claimed you had exchanged marriage vows, the Catholic Church accepted that as a valid marriage. In 1215 the Church (really an amalgamation of church and state) decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church, but people who married illicitly had the same civil rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate, the wife had the same inheritance rights, the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce.
In the 16th century, Europeans began to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices, mainly in an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed the match.
The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely rules that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage, but then the Civil War happened and the United States began to nullify common-law marriages between blacks and whites.
By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos”, or Asians while 12 states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, addict or “mental defect”, and 18 states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.
By the mid-20th century, courts invalidated laws against interracial marriage and other barriers, but governments began relying on marriage licenses as a means to distribute resources to dependents. Social Security survivor benefits require proof of marriage. Employers use marital status to determine whether they will provide health insurance or pension benefits to employees’ dependents. Courts and hospitals required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information. In the 1950s, using a marriage license in this way made some sense because marriage was the default condition of most Americans. Cohabiitation and single parenthood by choice were rare. Today, possession of a marriage license tells us little about people’s interpersonal responsibilities. Half of all Americans aged 25 to 29 are unmarried, but many of them have already incurred obligations as partners, parents or both. Almost 40 percent of America’s children are born to unmarried parents. Many legally married people are in remarriages where their obligations are spread among several households. Children can no longer be denied inheritance rights, parental support or legal standing because their parents are not married.
I favor of reverting back to an older marriage tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit”. Let couples write contracts between them for legal protections and obligations. Then just leave each other the hell alone.
Christians understand that the only true marriage is that founded by God. Government need not be involved in that. Our private affairs should be none of its business.
Marriage is a promise made before God with your marriage partner, possibly before a witnessing community. Government is not needed for this to take place.
Souls are not saved by regulating morality. I understand the point of wanting to ban certain behaviors, but it doesn’t work and it is hypocrtical since there are plenty of divorced and remarried Christians in churches and our kids are often sexually active before marriage.
If you want to make a difference in our society, start with your own family and community. God is not surprised by what is happening now with regard to our government. Teach your kids in the way they should go, call your churches to task for where they have strayed. Reach out to friends who claim to be Christians but who are living sinful lifestyles and gently guide them back where they should be. When that fails, churches should consider discipline. Discipline does not make the sin go away. Of the divorced and remarried Christians I know, it’s unlikely any of them could reconstitute their former marriages. But they would be helped immeasurably by confessing their sin and recognizing that they are outside of God’s will before committing more deeply to the relationship they are in currently.
If we want Godly communities, Christians must be leading their families and raising their children in a Godly way. As a whole, we have largely failed at this. If we really want those that are homosexual in our communities to love Jesus, and reconsider their lifestyle as a result, we must first show them the love of Jesus that we claim exists. As a whole, this too we have largely failed at.
To the gay community, please understand that I do not hate you. However, I do encourage you to consider pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ. Not only for your own sake in this life but in the life to come.
The reality is that Jesus hung on the cross for your sin too.