Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dems in Dissaray - What Does it Mean?

Stephen Colbert's confusing testimony before Congress last week demonstrated rather pointedly the confusion into which the Left's favorite party has fallen.  The Democrats have always been highly organized and focused so long as there was a Republican in power somewhere that they could besmirch.  Now that they own the White House and Capitol Building the Dems seem confused as to what to do with it.  All their smug assumptions about how people would dance in the street and sing their praises once they overpowered George Bush and the evil Neo-Cons.  For some reason, soaking the rich with new taxes, creating a massive everybody-gets-healthcare system and ending the war in the Middle-East (sort of) and making everyone on earth love Americans (if anything, they hate us more) did not draw forth the adulation of the masses they had expected.

Reminds me of the train wreck that was the end of the Carter administration.  Much as I disliked Bill Clinton, he had the sense not to let the moonbat leftists in the Democrat party dictate policy. While I don't believe Clinton was the smartest president in the past half century, I think he was probably the smartest Democrat president anyway despite what Jimmy Carter has to say about his own superiority as an ex-president.

In fact, I will even kind of agree with Carter on one point.  I think he's far more superior as an ex-president than he ever was as a president - though I do think Amy Carter had it spot-on about new-kee-ur weapons. Thank goodness her Daddy didn't have four more years to mess that whole thing up too.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Is Sarah Palin a "Mere" Cheerleader

One of my Facebook sparring partners recently dissed Sarah Palin as a mere cheerleader and unfit to be president. I immediately jumped back to the early 80's in my mind, remembering the incessant criticism of our president by both the left and the "intellectual" right.  Ronald Reagan was also criticized as a "mere" cheerleader if you'll remember.  They said he was an "empty suit", unfit for the intellectual challenges of being president.  My buddy, Dennis had the same criticism of Palin. He wants somebody "smart" to be president.

Well, you know what, I think we could use a cheerleader in the oval office.  How long has it been since we had someone in there who believes in the basis goodness of the American people AND believes in getting the government out of their way is the road to prosperity. I am sick to death of all the so-called "smart" people up in Washington, diddling with the economy, the health care system and our liberties in a futile attempt to plan all our lives out for us.

Even, notorious smart person, Albert Einstein, whom I respect as a scientist, fell victim to the misguided belief that many "smart" people do-- that somehow, smart people should be able to figure out how to run all our lives for us so as to eliminate poverty, want and disease.  He like other smart people over-estimated the capacity of human intelligence to manage something so blindingly complex as an economy, a culture or a vast collection of humans, each with free will and their own self-interest.  No small group of people have the collective brains to manage it.  That's why I believe that the government which governs best, is that which governs least.  

It doesn't take a towering intellect to lead. It takes courage, determination, humility and the willingness to lead from the front by example. We've had too many "smart" people try to micro-manage government. Carter did it. Johnson thought he could do it. Obama is doing it. Clinton, thank goodness, was too busy skirt-chasing to micro-manage and let the Republican congress open up the economy so that individual Americans could get it charged up and going again.

God d
eliver us from "smart" people. They think entirely too much of their own ability to do all the decision making. I say this as one of the so-called "smart" people (if you go by IQ testing I'm a flippin' genius). I understand as well as anyone that Intellect (with a capital "I") is not everything.  There's a lot more to leadership than book smarts. It took years of study, personal errors in leadership and a careful observance of outstanding leaders like Ronald Reagan, Patton, Eisenhower, Lincoln and Grant for me to learn how best to lead. I learned that great leaders first point the way and then get out of the way so the people can get on with the job. Great leaders delegate. Great leaders don't second guess. They don't micro-manage. They give the broad overview of the plan, then trust their generals, captains, lieutenants and especially their sergeants and privates to carry out those plans.

Obama's great sin is an entirely too great an admiration for his own intellect and a distrust for the collective intelligence of the American people. He trusts himself first, his advisors second and the American people dead last. That's a recipe for poor leadership and a discouraged, disorganized country. Under his "leadership" the American business community is reduced to sitting around on its collective butt, waiting to see what's the next "brilliant" idea that's going to come out of Washington and screw things up further.  Instead of getting up and going forward and making things happen, the very folks who could kick start the economy are keeping low, watching the economic weather. Passivity on the part of the business community will not save our economy, but that is exactly the behavior this administration is encouraging with its incessant micro-managing.

So Palin's lack of intellectual credentials bothers me not at all. Sometimes all we need is a cheerleader. Remember Reagan's "City on a Hill" speech. What was that, if not, cheerleading, but it was an effective technique for rallying the troops and dragging us away from the depression that Jimmy Carter and the Democrats were brewing. As a cheerleader Reagan was brilliant and oh, how the intellectuals whined that he delegated too much authority, that he didn't know "what was really going on". Remember the blistering criticism he took and how the American people paid no attention to it.

When he walked out of the summit in Iceland, the smart people railed that Reagan's "stupid" rejection of cool diplomacy had doomed the world to nuclear annihilation. The next year the Russians came back and the result was the first treaty that actually got missiles pointed at somebody else.

Reagan was called stupid for deploying Pershing missiles in Europe. Next thing you know both the Russians and us were scrapping ICBMs right and left.

The smart people excoriated Reagan for saying "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!" out loud and in front of Germans no less.
They said it would destabilize Russia and set back relations with the Soviet Union for years. Within just a few years the wall was torn down and the Soviet Union was no more.

Please, I implore the voters of America. If some pundit tells you such and such a candidate is the "smartest" man or woman in America......RUN!

Go straight to the voting booth and vote for his or her opponent!

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King
(c) 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Promises We Made - Remembering 9/11

There were two reactions that day in September - fear and anger. The fearful curled up and hid somewhere, hoping they would not be next. The angry stood up and did something, even if it was only to go outside and hang a flag out front of the house in defiance. I remember hanging my second flag (I already had one up), looking around the neighborhood in defiance and thinking, "Bring it on, wherever you are hiding. Here I stand!"

Maybe John Edwards was right. Maybe there are two Americas, but I doubt it was the two Americas he envisioned.  I think the two Americas are inhabited by the fearful and the brave. Like children on a playground, the fearful surrender and submit in hopes that the local bully won't hurt them much. The brave stand up to the bully and take a pounding if they have to, but they refuse to submit or surrender.  The cost of cowardice is far too high to pay and you will never cease to pay that price.  Its not just we who pay the cost either. It will be our children and our children's children who will pay the price if we are too fearful to stand up to the bullies of this world.

God placed us in this land to create a refuge for the bullied peoples of the world. He blessed it so that those refugees now live in the most prosperous, peaceful land in the world.  We didn't steal it our prosperity from others.  We dug deep, worked hard and held on against those same bullies and thugs who would follow us here to prey on us in this new land.  Our forefathers taught us to fight tyranny, to fight the bully boys of the world that our children might enjoy the blessings of liberty. We fought tyranny during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. We fought it again during the Civil War, and World War II. We owe our fathers and our children a toe to toe, knock down drag out fight like this world has never seen to preserve our sacred liberty in this generation.  There are those among us who would surrender our liberties to the very same thugs and bullies that generations of Americans fought so hard to free themselves from, mainly because they are too afraid to fight.  Dylan Thomas' famous poem says, "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage against the dying of the light."  Good advice for this generation of Americans for we are in danger of slipping quietly into the long night of tyranny in exchange for bread and circuses and the illusion of peace and safety.

It is well on this anniversary to remember 9/11 and what can happen to us if we cease to be vigilant.  It is better that we remember the promises we made to ourselves and our posterity in the days after 9/11 when the horror of what was done to us was still fresh in our minds.

Tom King, Tyler, TX

* Image available at:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Enemy Among Us

We live in a complex world that we know relatively little about, despite millenia of accumulated scientific data, observation, history and experience. And yet, in our arrogance, there are those among us who believe they have it all figured out - all wrapped up in their own personal "theory of everything".

It's not just physicists chasing that particular chimera.  Politicians, theologians, sociologists, conspiracy theorists and anthropologists are looking for it as well as every back porch know-it-alls and shade tree philosophers; anybody that has a Facebook account and Internet access runs the risk of setting up shop as an expert on "how it really is".

The truth is that not one of us can say for sure how the world works.  At best we can set up a little paradigm for ourselves and collect evidence to prove its validity.  If we're an atheist, we collect evidence to prove there is no God.  If we're a believer, we look for evidence that there is.  That's not necessarily a bad way to go about it, but it is a painfully slow way, for as we accumulate evidence for our pet theories, bits of data flow past us that may disprove our theory.  If we collect enough of this evidence, we experience a sudden "jump" or, what Thomas Kuhn called a "paradigm shift" in which we suddenly reset our theory of everything to include the new data and begin collecting data to prove the new theory.

Learning is not a smooth upward climb for most of us. It's more of a series of stair steps.  It would be far too frightening to run through this world soaking up information and not putting it into a framework by which we can understand it.  We view life against a background of our own construction.  We can only distinguish new ideas or data or experiences against the backdrop of our beliefs.  It's like the person who was born blind and suddenly has his blindness cured.  His first look at the world is apt to be frightening because he cannot distinguish foreground from background. He has no idea of perspective. If something moves it frightens him because he cannot tell how far away it is and whether or not it is a threat. Some newly sighted have to put on a blindfold and take a break from seeing in order regroup their senses.

The devil our adversary, said Christ, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  A lion's roar is designed to confuse and frighten his prey so they cannot act in a coordinated way to oppose him. By stampeding a heard of buffalo, he can pick off one of their number as they run away, something he could not do if they were to stand together and trample him into the dust.

Whether on the political left or right, the Christian, Muslim, Neo-pagan or Atheist viewpoint, the devil walks among us all. I identify myself as a member of the so-called Christian right.  I have a personal definition of that which does not at all resemble the mainstream media's definition. I have spoken about the devil on the left.  My greatest concern is the work of the devil on the right.  It follows a predictable pattern.  If you're the devil you stick with what works.

1.  You work your victims up into a lather over some issue, real or imaginary, either serves his purpose. This is the roaring lion bit.

2.  You provide the targeted group with a nice theory of who is to blame for all of the trouble.  It may be George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Pelosi, Frances Fox Piven or the Illuminati.

3.  You convince your victims that this person who is to blame has almost mystical powers to do evil works and (even better) that this person is after them personally.

4.  You convince the victim that a certain group is the only one that has the proper magic to save us all.  Give that group as narrow a vision of God or the Universe and everything else as possible.  If it's a religious group, make their concept of God as narrow and as repressive as possible.  Give them special underwear or something like that for the "true" initiates to wear as badges of belonging.

5.  Make them see both their enemies and their friends as potential traitors and underminers of the faith (or, in the case of atheists, lack of faith). Formalize their peculiar brand of belief.  Give it rock solid fundamental beliefs.  Heat up their paranoia as much as possible.

6.  Suggest to the victim that violence may soon be necessary and make them come to cherish the idea of pulling the trigger, swinging the sword or wielding the battleaxe. In rare cases you can convince them to long for martyrdom for the cause.

7.  Begin organized guerrilla attacks on those "infidels" who dare to disbelieve. Have them start with their own friends and neighbors and former colleagues.  Start with verbal attacks and angry rhetoric. Move on to punishment of those who have fallen away from the faith.

8.  Pit the paranoid group you've organized among your victims' opposites directly against your paranoid group.  This will solidify both sides in inexorable hatred of one another

9.  Convince the victim that the group needs to do something "big" that will make people listen. At first only a few will make the attempt, but as the reaction to the "something bigs" grows you can gain group support for acts they once would have decried as "monstrous".

10. Set off the bomb, conduct the air raid, murder the innocent - conduct whatever horror you've convinced them they need to conduct to "show them". Don't let them think about who "them " is or to see them as human beings in any form or fashion.  Once "the enemy" is dehumanized, you can keep the war going on for a jolly long time.

More often than not, one paranoid group ascends to the pinnacle of madness well in advance of the others - Germany ahead of Russia in the 20's and 30's for instance.  We got dragged unwillingly into that whole mess in order to save ourselves and the world from a truly evil threat. Don't get me wrong, there are wars worth fighting. Even great pacifists like Charles Lindbergh came to see the justice of our cause in that war.  But it was the communist bogey man that did more to propel the Nazis to power than anything. And remember this, both the communists and national socialists were on the same side in the beginning.

We must be wary of those amongst us who are so anxious to get their minds around some idea that explains it all that they would even limit the power of God.  These folks develop theories such that God needs us to do things for Him that He cannot do for Himself.  Such a God is not permitted to be great and unknowable at least not to the leaders of the movement. The leaders of such groups will say God is great and unknowable - for you ordinary folk - but they, because of their education, breeding or special underpants claim to understand all about God will be happy to tell you what God wants them to do.  If this is an atheist group, then instead of God insert "how it really is" in place of "God".  They always have a set of books or DVDs to sell you about "what really is going on".

It is impossibly arrogant of us to believe we know everything there is to know about anything.  Even the governance of a nation has proved time and again beyond the power of any one person to govern alone. When we diddle with the economy to make it better, we always make a mess of it.  There is an infinite cosmos out there we've never even seen except at second hand.  Even the starlight we see at night is thousands of years old for the most part.  We have no idea what's really going on in the universe and as soon as we think we understand, we discover we had no idea.  The sooner we come to accept that, the sooner we will find ourselves seated comfortably at the feet of God, our minds open and ready to learn.  And, by the way, the sooner we'll be able to work together with each other, our individual cosmic paradigms notwithstanding.

I'm just telling you what I think.

Tom King (c) 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why do Christians Hate Muslims?

I found this question on a Yahoo forum.  It was asked, apparently sincerely, by someone in Iran, who says she does not understand why Christians hate Muslims.  She says, " We respect all religions. All divine religions.Including Christianism.We don't want to kill you or anything ! Where did you get this rubbish from?"

Sadly we get it from Muslims.  Muslims on television, Muslims on radio in their own country, Muslim terrorists who blow themselves up on the outside chance they'll take a few of us with them and Muslims on the Internet who broadcast the beheading of a young American engineer live and in color and shouted "Death to America!"

Here is my answer to her question:

First, your question assumes a falsehood.  Christians do not hate Muslims. God forbids us to. Here's the problem.

Your faith seems to many Christian observers to have been co-opted by the Mullahs, fanatics and terrorists in your ranks. They have done a systematic and thorough public relations job over the past two decades to convince others that we must needs fear the wrath of Islam and have proclaimed "Jihad" against us.  It has, unfortunately, achieved its purpose. We fear Islam.  If by Christians you are talking about American Christians, we really don't hate the Muslim people. Our country is open to Muslims and they are allowed to worship as they see fit.  In the wake of 9/11, it was the main body of Christians who called for calm and asked people not to persecute Muslims in our midst. But there is a disconnect here.  There doesn't appear to be a corresponding call for tolerance from the Muslim community.  Terror and horror by Islamic fanatics is greeted with a resounding silence from the Muslim community, other than a few scattered spokesmen for Islamic "protection" organizations who seemed more frightened than outraged by the 9/11 attacks.

Were we not at risk of our very lives just by traveling to the Middle East, most of us would love to travel in the part of the world that was the cradle of Western Civilization. I'd love to see the pyramids, but I'd rather not be blown up or beheaded for my troubles.

As the bully on the playground soon discovers, if you make people fear you, they will not like you for it. I had a child in counseling once at a children's mental health center who wanted to be elected dorm captain by his peers.  He came to me complaining because nobody would vote for him. "I've beat up everyone in the dorm," he explained, "And they still won't make me captain." 

That's what the fanatic element of Islam has done. They want to be leaders of the Muslim world apparently (we've read about the Caliphate) and they go around blowing people up to prove their worth as leaders. Then, they cannot seem to understand why nobody, even their own people, like them very much. I know that ordinary Muslims deplore the violence and bloodshed.  So do Christians.

Unfortunately, we have members of the Christian community who are just as fanatic as your own terrorists. One blew up a building in Oklahoma and killed a bunch of people.  Isn't it odd how these folks do more killing of their own people than they do of the "infidels" and "pagans" they oppose?

Ultimately, no decent Christian hates Muslims, whatever we think of Islam as a religion. Christ forbids us to do so.  We disagree among ourselves as a faith and have fractured into dozens of denominations, as a result, so we can obey Christ's command and worship according to the dictates of our own consciences without fighting amongst ourselves.  We'd rather be smaller and peaceful than to have a massively large and powerful church that is at war with itself.  The opposite seems to be the case with Islam.

We, Christians, actually love peace.  It takes a whole lot of provocation to get us into a war most of the time - like attacking Pearl Harbor without warning or blowing up the World Trade Center (and even then we didn't start anything till the second attempt succeeded).  We got into it with Saddam Hussein because he attacked and conquered Kuwait, a sovereign nation and even then we restrained our hand from finishing Saddam once we liberated Kuwait, which is again a sovereign nation. If we hadn't feared he was trying to get weapons of mass destruction, we'd have probably let things go. Despite propaganda to the contrary, his unwillingness to let us freely examine his weapons programs was what led us to the second Iraq war. You don't walk around with your hand in your bulging pocket threatening people, unless you expect them to think you've got a gun. And you shouldn't be surprised if someone shoots you because they are afraid of you.  It's a lesson Iranian leaders should have learned.  Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists could start a nuclear holocaust and Iran's willingness to supply arms to terrorists gives us more cause to fear.

Our country has made mistakes in the Middle-East, no question, but that's our nation, not our faith.
Nations are run by men and men make mistakes. Our faith says treat all men as you would have them treat you and the majority of Christians do that.  Please do not blame the hate speech that gets reported on endlessly by the media on all Christians. These people are our particular fanatics and we oppose them up front and loudly.

If Islam would proclaim that we have the right to live and worship as we see fit, I promise you Christian America will support the same for you - in fact, WE ALREADY DO.  If we were to stop having to rescue Arab Christian converts from Middle-Eastern countries who have a death sentence on them for converting, maybe we wouldn't be so afraid of Muslims. We grant Muslims freedom to worship in our own homeland even to the extent that nobody really wants to force the Imam in New York to move the mosque elsewhere - we'd rather he just respect our feelings and move it voluntarily. When is Christianity and Judaism ever going to be tolerated to the same extent by Islam?

We do not pretend to understand the endless squabbles you guys get into over patches of dirt, holy and otherwise.  We do not understand why so many Muslims want the Jews dead and pushed into the sea and the nation of Israel eliminated from the face of the Earth. Christians have not demanded that you to return all the ancient Christian and Jewish holy sites over which your faith has built mosques (St. Sophia, The Church of Job and the temple mound in Jerusalem are all Christian holy sites where conquering Islamic nations have erected mosques to celebrate victory over the infidels. The Christian faith sprang from the Middle-East. We count Abraham as our father just as Jews and Muslims do. Why can we not share access to the holy ground we all share in common?

I will tell you why.

Islamic leaders call us infidels and deny us access for that reason alone. According to even tolerant Muslims, a Christian or Jew would, by mere presence, pollute those holy places.  Now, a Muslim could freely walk into almost any Christian church or cathedral in the world so long as he or she is respectful without fear.  You cannot say that is true for any mosque - at least that is not the impression I have been given by your leaders, apologists and by tourist guidebooks which warn Christians sternly against "violating" Muslim sacred sites.

If you treat people like they are unclean, how can you expect them to love you for it? There are certain Christian churches I have no patience for because of attitudes like that.  I stay away from them. I publicly disagree with them if they spew such venom in the press or on-line.

The only hope of friendship between Christian and Muslim is for the mass of believers to come together to oppose evil on both sides.  As a Christian I do. When a terrorist claims to be a Christian, the true Christian community rises up and denounces their evil deeds.  We do that because in our country, we will not lose our heads for doing so.

One of the things we Christians do not understand is why Muslims do not publicly oppose the fanatics that you claim are not true Muslims, but some kind of fringe group that we should not judge you by.  And yet the silence from the Muslim community in the wake of their continued outrages is deafening.

Why is that, if I may ask a question myself? If it is fear of terrorists? Your leaders? The disapproval of your neighbors?  I do not understand why the body of Islam remains silent and the mullahs do not speak against such evil-doings. In my country and in my faith, we believe that to see injustice in your own house and in your own neighborhood and to remain silent is to condone that injustice.

There are plenty of times that Christians have remained silent because of fear. We think it's shameful when they do.  There are also plenty of Christians who have died or suffered persecution for standing against evil too.  It's a hard world and not one in which you can have principles without risk.

Maybe if Muslims and Christians who believe every man has a right to worship as he pleases were to join forces, we could stop some of the foolishness.  We shouted down the misguided Preacher who wants to burn the Koran - Christians did that!  We do not believe it is right to intentionally offend people of other faiths.

So when do we hear outrage from Muslims about the proposed Mosque that overlooks the site of the World Trade Center?  It offends many Americans, Christians or otherwise, not because we hate Muslims, but because, like the construction of the Mosques at the Dome of the Rock, St. Sophia and the Church of Job, this Mosque cannot help but look like another incidence of Islam celebrating a victory over the infidel (us) - especially when so many Muslims danced in the street throughout the Middle-East in celebration on 9/11.  How can it hurt to move the site as a gesture of peace to Americans whose lives and families were shattered by a group of madmen flying the flag of Islam?  Out of respect.....

We went first and raised our voices against the Koran burning and persecution of Muslims.  It's your turn. We love you guys.  It's what Christians do.

Tom King - Tyler, Texas

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Digging Out the Speck - Nonprofit Quarterly Questions Beck/Palin Associates

Nonprofit Quarterly's Jeff Cohen this week wrote a piece this week about "Glenn Beck's Nonprofit Ties" that had surprisingly little to say about Beck's ties. Cohen wrote, "....some of the lesser known players wandering past the dais at Beck’s Restoring Honor gathering last week should be of interest to the nonprofit sector if they have questions about the nonprofit values underlying the rally." Jeff had to do some serious digging to find the wisp of dirt he "uncovered". 

His concern was about two players, members of Beck's so-called Black Robe Regiment, Pastor John Hagee, a fiery San Antonio-based preacher who believes the Apocalypse is upon us and Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Apparently, Hagee has a poor opinion of the Catholic Church as an organization and Lapin was once friends with former shady lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. The list of sordidness can be found here. It's mild sordidness by usual Washington DC standards and drags us clear to the Marianas, over to a parochial school in Maryland and "by association" to former Republican Congressman Tom DeLay. It's petty, to say the least, and doesn't list any actual indictments or criminal charges that have been incurred by Rabbi Lapin or Reverend Hagee due to their opinions or friendships. According to Cohen, they are apparently shady characters because of their opinions and friends. 

Look, Hagee is entitled to his opinion re: the Roman Catholics Church whether any of us agree with it or not, and Hagee, himself, denies any animus toward individual Catholics. His problem is with the church organization itself and he is entitled to that opinion. The Catholic Church certainly has opinions about non-Catholics like Hagee and me (did you know, for instance, the Pope holds the opinion that non-Catholics like Hagee and me will burn in hell forever-tortured for our sins in pain for all eternity). Despite my own repugnance at that idea, I think the Pope is entitled to his opinion and to teach it in Catholic churches. Then there's the whole Spanish Inquisition thing, Joan of Arc, Huss, Jerome, Wycliffe, Galileo and others running a centuries long history of church sponsored violence and bloodshed. Hagee didn't have to search nearly as hard as you did to find that sort of dirt on the Catholic Church and isn't that what this article was - a dirt-digging expedition? Wasn't Cohen's article designed chiefly to cast aspersions on Beck and Palin and to impugn the motives of the folks at the Rally?  It certainly seemed that way to me.

Other pastors there have as harsh an opinion of Hagee and his church as he does of some of theirs. But this wasn't about religious opinions. The point of the day was that people like Rev. Hagee could stand side by side with people of many faiths in support of a common set of values - free speech, free assembly, free religion, free press, free economy, etc.. That was a monumentally significant gathering of diverse and peaceful people. No violence at all. Even those who came to incite violence were surrounded quickly by peaceful participants and when they couldn't get a fight started, they became quiet and drifted away.

These were nice people at the rally, up front and in the audience; regular folks from every economic strata, every culture, every race and religion (there were Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Buddhists in the crowd and on stage). They agree that we should return to the values we once espoused in this country, no matter how imperfectly we may have practiced those values. Maybe we'll get it better this time, who knows? But it was a stunning achievement AND it raised a bunch of money for the foundation. I defy you to check out the backgrounds of the leaders and organizers of a typical mall "rally" and find a pristine record of personal ethical behavior, let alone ethical behavior by organizations at second and third remove or folks who happened to wander by the dais.

You certainly won't have to go to the Marianas and, "by extension" to a congressman you don't like, to find corruption. If you are going to look for a speck of sawdust in your neighbor's eye, you might want to check out the log sticking out of your own side's collective eyes. I could name names and connections, but this comment is not about "we said, they said". It's about a fair treatment of everyone. If you are going to select folks "wandering past the dais" as brushes with which to negatively paint Beck and Palin and the whole Restoring Honor Rally, then I challenge you to review with the same intensity the backgrounds of say, the folks who performed at the big concert for 9/11 families, or the organizers of Al Sharton's “Reclaim the Dream” Rally held just down the street on 8/28. Otherwise you appear biased towards a political view and I thought Nonprofit Quarterly was, at least in part, about holding Nonprofits to a higher ethical standard.

I don't think the Special Operations Warriors Foundation did anything wrong, even by association and they were the recipients of the funds raised. Their wrongdoing would be relevant to Nonprofit Quarterly. I don't see how someone who offered prayer or presented an award have anything to do with the ethics of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin anyway.  Lots of folks with unsavory pasts help raise money for U.S. charities and I haven’t seen a lot of complaints at the Nonprofit Quarterly (I could have missed them). The people cited as fishy in this article had no control over or financial ties to the Rally which was, in essence, a fund-raising event. The fact that someone with a connection to a nonprofit has in the past got hooked up with something that may or may not have been ethical has nothing to do with the rally or the foundation’s ethics. I defy almost anyone with a long history in nonprofit and fund-raising work, not to have taken funding from or made an association or connection to something or someone that could be considered shady.

Does that then condemn you to eternal separation from nonprofit fund-raising activities if someone "wanders by the dais" who has a blot on his or her past? If so, the ranks of nonprofit leadership would rapidly be decimated. We can, at best, try to insure we, ourselves, and our organizations behave in an ethical manner. We can turn down money from shady sources. But what our brothers, our volunteers or our partner agencies do outside our events and programs is beyond our power to control. Have you ever been outvoted on a board of directors and stayed to try to correct the error you believed your brother and sister board members were making? If we cut and run, resigning every time there's a problem, we aren't being ethical, we're being cowards. There is a time to dig in our heels and stand for what’s right. We shouldn’t be tarnished for doing so. If we want brave and ethical people at the helm of our nonprofits, we should be a little more reluctant to rush to tarnish reputations on no more than what is "guilt by association".

I think it's irresponsible to do these kinds of snarky hit pieces if you are a website and newsletter promoting ethics among nonprofits. If you have evidence of wrongdoing against the Rally organizers, Beck or Palin, fine. Give evidence.  If someone is misappropriating money, okay. Show us how. But all these charges amount to are an attempt to throw mud.  This type of one-sided "journalism" opens Nonprofit Quarterly up to charges of bias towards a single political viewpoint, to witch-hunting and to light slander (in my church they call it gossip).

Had Mr. Cohen continued with a broad examination of the ethics of the leaders of these kinds of fund-raising rallies, he'd have had a fair article.  This was a hit piece, nothing more and a poorly aimed one.

I'm just telling it like I see it.

Tom King

* Al Sharpton image from The Austin-American Statesman:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why We Aren't Any Good at Limited War

Paul Gleiser's commentary this week on our local news/talk radio station, KTBB was called "The Unbearable Cost of Discount War".  He made the point that "half wars" are far too expensive.  He has a point. It's hard for Christian people to wage all out war. There must be a clearly defined and "evil" enemy. In WWI and prior, the news media gave sanitized coverage of the war that over-exaggerated how evil the enemy we were fighting was.  People bought their papers and believed what they were reading.  Even the hostile anti-war members of the press in those days didn't have damning film to back up their criticisms of the war.  It was easier to wage total war without the film coverage. Nowadays, you can get lots of exciting film that makes us look bad, but no one shows the really horrible stuff the bad guys do. Nothing makes people turn off the TV faster than acres of rotting nerve gassed corpses. They'll run shots of piles of naked "live" Iraqis next to foolish grinning soldiers till we're sick of it and angry at our own soldiers.  They won't show you the live television beheading of an American engineer or a young soldier or piles of naked dead Iraqis in a ditch where they have been machine-gunned by their own government.  Is it any wonder so many have lost interest in fighting a war where we're being portrayed as the bad guys night after night because it's the only film that doesn't make people turn off the television and spoil CNN's ratings.

Film coverage began in WWII and it was still highly sanitized, but traumatizing. One wonders what Americans would have done had they been able to see the film of the real atrocities. When an American magazine published pictures of dead Americans on a beach in the South Pacific, it cost the government a great deal of public support for the war.  Even though they couldn't show the pictures at the time, General Eisenhower made his historians and embedded reporters photograph everything at the death camps as did MacArthur in the POW camps. It helped us later, when we were distanced somewhat from the carnage to come to terms with WWII and the havoc we wreaked on Japan and Germany to see the evil that we had been fighting up close.  Who can forget the heaps of naked, dead Jews and emaciated POW's and the acres of murdered Chinese. When we understood the enemy we had fought, we supported the total effort we had to make to defeat them. We didn't even blame the Germans and the Japanese, preferring to think it was only the leaders who participated and we rebuilt those two nations into powerful allies.

Like the Jews, however, we still shrink from waging war Jehovah style and it comes back to haunt us. Sadly, with war, it's all or nothing. Limited war is too expensive, too invisible to the people who pay the bills and too far away from their own concerns for people to care very much.

We also have the problem that the media views war through its own peculiar prism, forged by decades of leftist university journalism professors. If one were to tell the stories of what we put an end to in Iraq and Afghanistan alone, the American public would have little trouble supporting an effort to end that war.

But for every journalist who tells the story of villagers nerved gassed (a most hideous chemical form of Saddam's so-called nonexistent WMDs), villagers lined up and machine-gunned, then bull-dozed into a ditch or fathers and mothers and even children tortured brutally in the prisons of Abu Graib, there are ten who tell stories of Americans committing atrocities, soldiers dying pointlessly (according to the commentator) or corrupt leaders profiteering off the war.

Oddly, for some reason Americans would prefer to believe we are being bullies and thugs than they would to believe that such horror could be going on somewhere. It seems an easy solution to bring our boys home and stop fighting wars altogether.  Then we would be guiltless.  - that's easy so long as we disbelieve the "jingoist" reports of what sort of truly evil stuff is going on in those nations.

For if we believe those things are going on, our Christian upbringing tells us we must do something to stop it. But that would be hard and risky and no one is hurting our families here in the states.  We don't want to know what's going on beyond the walls. It's too painful to look at, so we tune in the media that tells us the local gossip and focuses on our own problems.

We can't help the soldier children in Africa or the tribes being starved and tortured in the Middle-East. We just don't want to know about it so we can sleep at night in our fluffy beds.

9/11 shook us up. That's why we went to Afghanistan and Iraq. They hit us at home. They killed American mothers, fathers, grandparents and children.  Osama bin Laden is a very poor strategic tactician. If he'd just kept hitting us outside of our own borders, he could have systematically discouraged us and induced us to abandon our friends and allies in the world.

If he'd not made that colossal mistake, he'd be far closer to the Caliphate the Muslim fanatics dream of and the American people would never have allowed us to go to war to stop him. If he can just restrain himself from attacking us again, he still has a chance at victory. The mainstream media certainly won't cover that war as closely and Americans will ignore it until one day we look up and discover an angry, armed and hostile Middle Eastern superpower that has been made proud of their "technological contributions" to civilization by our NASA goodwill outreach program and they will be pointing some very nasty "technological contributions" right at us.  Only, unlike the Cold War, there will be truly insane madmen with their fingers on those triggers.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth

A friend whose opinion I normally respect did a serious riff on Glenn Beck's Theology the other day. He echoed the sentiments of others like Dr. Russell Moore and Jim Wallis who have characterized Beck as dangerous.  Reminds me of the reaction of the political/religious leaders of Jesus' time when John the Baptist and later, Jesus, showed up. They were suspicious of any charismatic leader who didn't report to and take orders from the Sanhedrin.  "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" they asked, then proceeded to plot against the popular young preachers.

At the end of time, scripture tells us that God will call us to "Come out of her My people." I, personally think that's happening right now.  So what if Glenn's a Mormon? Last week, I never heard anyone at the Restoring Honor Rally call anyone to come be a Mormon. Beck and his fellow speakers simply echoed the very call of Revelation to "come out of Babylon" and return to God.

Beck's critics are harshest in their criticism that Beck mingles religion and politics. That seems odd since Babylon as described in Scripture is a political as well as religious entity. You cannot separate the two functions of the entity John calls Babylon.

The religious leaders who are up in arms believe any revival should not only be led, but only spoken about by a purely religious leader-here, I imagine a guy in a Men's Wearhouse suit with that big plastic televangelist hair.  God seldom calls the same folks our politicians would choose if they could choose God's messengers for themselves.  Lets face it. They'd choose someone who would flatter them and acknowledge their power.  Certainly, Ahab would not have picked Elijah for the court prophet. Pharoah certainly wouldn't have picked Moses to represent the Jews.  God has always chosen his own messengers, taking little in the way of advice from the current crop of Scribes and Pharisees.

No, I suspect God will be quite able to sort out the sheep from the goats all by Himself. And who would I think I am to criticize God's choice of who is a sheep, much less what shepherds he sends out for the lost lambs? I believe that in the coming months we'll be surprised at who steps forward and begins to proclaim the same message of Restoration, faith, hope and charity that I heard last Saturday.

And it will be also, no surprise at all if the hounds of hell do not beset those messengers who call for a return to faith in God.

As to Beck's theology, I suspect a brief Q&A at the Pearly Gates will take care of any errors any of us might be laboring under and who's going to argue with God when he or she is standing on the Sea of Glass. A movement is beginning. It is without acknowledged leaders. Did you notice how quick the opposition came to assume Beck wanted to run for President?  Of course they did, because who among those who oppose his message would not jump at an opportunity to seize power if given such a springboard.  They cannot seem to understand that Beck isn't seeking power. He reminds me of that "voice crying in the wilderness". Beck constantly talks like a man who believes God must increase while I must decrease.  He knows that what he says will likely get him killed. He wore a bulletproof vest on stage because his wife asked him to, knowing he was only inviting a sniper's head shot.  Remember John the Baptist's messages were often political too.  Herod locked him up because John had the audacity to criticize the King. He executed John because his entourage (the bloggers of his day) demanded it.  The Sanhedrin convicted Jesus because he was drawing followers away from the "rightful" religio-political rulers of the day. Pontius Pilate executed him to satisfy the mob gathered at his gates.

I would echo Joshua's words today, "Choose you this day whom you will serve."  If it is any other than God, you're off the boat, even if that thing you serve is your church, a church leader or a political leader.  Anything between you and God is not from Him. That's precisely why church leaders are up in arms.  They see Beck as a threat, a sheep stealer. Like the Scribes and the Pharisees, they will seek any means to bring anyone down who does not acknowledge their power and authority. Who do you think those folks were working for?  Certainly not God.  Is it any wonder Jesus that the only name-calling he ever did was reserved for the nation's politicians and their business partners?

I choose to dedicate the next 40 days to prayer and meditation on what is happening, upon His soon coming and upon my relationship with God. It's a great idea. I'm glad Beck suggested it.  I see no harm in that.

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King

Ungrateful Church Leaders Hammer Glenn Beck

In the wake of Saturday’s Restoring Honor Rally and the now-famous “Gods Geese Flyover, radio host and author Glenn Beck is coming under fire, not only from the expected liberal/progressive/socialist/communist community, but also from conservative and progressive church leaders, many of who have instructed their own flocks to pay no attention to such supposed “signs from God”. Echoing the Huffington Post and other liberal weblogs, they cry, "It was only a flock of geese...." Expect Sunday sermons to include instructions from the pulpit to turn off the charismatic Beck's radio program. Church leaders apparently fear that Beck, the self-proclaimed “rodeo clown”, is planning to lead their flocks astray.

“Well isn’t that special?”

For most of my life, I have been reading scripture, especially the prophetic passages in Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew and the Revelation. I have studied the Biblical ‘signs of the end’ and wondered how some of them would ever come to pass in America, the land of the free and home of the brave. For a long time, it seemed we were just grinding along the same old same old year after year with nothing new happening. I wondered when God would send the Holy Spirit upon his children and call them out of Babylon at last. I wondered when Satan would make his move to take over the governments of the world as was foretold would happen at the end.

Then, with breath-taking speed, signs that the end is coming began to happen right before my eyes. I heard people everywhere saying, “It’s time. Jesus must be coming soon.” Jesus Himself said that when we saw the signs we would know His coming is soon and that just before the end, He would call us to come out of Babylon and He would come for us.

When God calls "Come out of her my people," I believe He will call people from every faith, nation, kindred, tongue and tribe. We’ve all, in every denomination, give some lip-service to the idea that we aren’t the only ones God will save, but we figure most of them will belong to our brand of faith at the very least.

So when we see apparently leaderless Christians and people of good will banding together and calling for a return to God, obedience to His law and not the law of man and they are doing it without their church’s head guys at the head of the line, it is not surprising that church leaders would yelp. You betcha the leaders of denominations are going to be upset that this funny little Mormon guy is out there calling for a revival and more people are responding than you can count (if you try to tot up the TV audiences who sat glued to their televisions for hours on Saturday). They are as upset as the Republican leadership is over the Tea Parties and that whole unruly, out-of-control gang of conservatives.

Leaders don't like their followers thinking for themselves or paying attention to someone else. Of course, they will find something sinister in what’s going on. After all, it’s not their idea. It’s not some thought they jotted down in their notebook on an airplane to Chicago:

Let’s see….

1. Lube the car
2. Take the dog to the Vet
3. Start a revival
4. Pick up dry cleaning

I've been carefully listening to Glenn Beck for more than a year now and find nothing sinister in his message. His call on Saturday was a call to faith in God whatever you conceive him to be in whatever church you worship.

The Baptist* leaders ought to complain the least about Beck. They should be downright grateful. Beck actually told half a million Christians (many of them Baptists) that they ought to pay tithe to their churches. Most pastors, especially congregational churches like the Baptists, are afraid to give that sermon because they know they will lose half their congregation or better by the next Sunday. Beck’s challenge to his audience was, “If you believe, give your church 10%.” Oddly enough it was a tax increase that the notoriously anti-taxation crowd responded to enthusiastically. Beck, in effect, just gave most Baptist ministers a pay raise without them having to risk their jobs!

Ungrateful is what I’d call it.

I’m just telling you what I think….

Tom King – Tyler, TX

*P.S.   I know it's not just the Baptists that are squealing, it's just that Baptist Seminary President, Dr. Russel Moore, got pretty vocal right out of the gate.  He's not alone, of course, but Russel Moore called the Restoring Honor Rally "scandalous".  I wonder if he even watched any of it?  He makes assumptions about what was said at the rally that weren't warranted.  His article, published by the American Family Association, sounded more like "Wait for me, I'm your leader," than anything else; a lament, the theme of which is that traditional church leadership hasn't been able to kick up a decent national revival for years.

Glenn is, I think, doing the right thing. I may disagree with his theology, but I figure God will take care of our theological differences when it is important to do that. A group Q&A at the Pearly Gates ought to take care of it. 

Russell Moore would also disagree just as vehemently with my theology if I were to have given the keynote last weekend. Only an "official" Baptist at the mike on Saturday would have done for Doctor Moore. I think he's being really short sighted.

In the meantime, the call is "Come out of her my people." That's what I heard at Saturday's rally.  It was a clear call to me and I'm proud to say that my church has been preaching that particular sermon for better than 150 years. I'm just glad it's beginning to get a little volume to it and I welcome anyone who will sound the call whatever their faith, creed, nation or culture. Glad you guys are catching up.

And while I sympathize with the fears of leaders like Moore, I'm not worried. God is a lot bigger and more powerful than we sometimes give Him credit for and He makes a whole lot better leader than do the guys in the $500 suits and the plastic hair!

Again, that's just one man's opinion.