Monday, December 31, 2012

Gerry Anderson: Ahead of His Time

I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of British animator and TV producer Gerry Anderson at age 83. Most people are probably familiar with Anderson's puppet-action TV series such as "The Thunderbirds," but I remember him most fondly for UFO, a live-action series that only lasted for one season (1970-71 - I think production for some shows began in 1969). These shows were created alongside his ex-wife, Sylvia Anderson, who remains active in the entertainment industry to this day.

This is the BBC's obituary on Gerry. And you might consider purchasing the whole UFO series, which is available on DVD. It really was ahead of its time.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: "God's Wisdom in Proverbs"

Pastor Dan Phillips Mines the Motherlode and Strikes Gold

This review has been a long time in coming. Too long, really. Dan's book has been out for some time, and I've only now been able to get to reading it. It's been more than worth the wait, and the time spent with "God's Wisdom in Proverbs" has been time well spent.

Last January, I reviewed Dan's first book, "The World Tilting Gospel." When he mentioned his second book on Proverbs, he said that it would be a "slower" read and would require more time for study of Scripture along with the book, and pondering. This proved to be true, but it's a good kind of "slower" read, and is not dull by any means. I have seen various attempts to deal with Proverbs, but in my mind, this is one of the best approaches and best treatments of Solomon's wisdom that I have seen.

The key reason I make that assessment is because it strikes a very keen balance between two reading audiences. It is a book that will profit both the trained Bible scholar and the layperson. For the scholar, Dan frequently references the original Hebrew and digs deeply into the intended meanings of words and phrases—key in understanding the intent of Solomon and the other contributors to Proverbs. But Dan's writing and manner of explaining the biblical text is very user-friendly, accessible for the non-scholar, and is a tremendous resource for anyone who wants to mine this portion of God's Word for very rich treasure—the motherlode of His wisdom.

The book begins by laying out the groundwork for studying Proverbs, looking at the difference between Hebrew poetry and our more Western model. Proverbs is in the portion of Scripture known as "wisdom literature," and Proverbs is an assembled book of wisdom—wisdom from God given to the wisest man in human history (by the gift of God Himself). Dan also helpfully (and cleverly) describes what a proverb is— a "saying, not a dissertation . . . or an adage without "paddage." Definition: "A proverb is a compressed statement of wisdom, artfully crafted to be striking, thought-provoking, memorable, and practical." They are designed for "lean economy of expression." In a proverb, "the language is stripped down to its essentials for maximum impact and memorability." Dan illustrates this as follows:

This quality of terseness is both the genius and the challenge of Hebrew poetry. It is effective in the way the imagery or thought is embedded on the mind. But one feels the challenge in interpretation, as the writer expects the reader to use his familiarity with the imagery, and his imagination, to fill in the gaps. The challenge is particularly keen to twenty-first century English-speaking urbanites, who find the writer's terms tough to translate, and his imagery removed from our daily experience.

It can indeed be tough, but as Dan shows over the course of the book, far from impossible, and very profitable to make the effort to "get it."

I'd like to highlight a couple of key passages in "God's Wisdom in Proverbs" that really grabbed me. While there are many such passages in a rich study like this, I find these two passages hitting the bullseye in the attitudes prevalent in this world (and even in the church) that hold many back from finding the motherlode within God's Word ourselves.

In Chapter 5—"Relating to God by Trust and Worship"—Dan makes the point that human arrogance and pride stand in the way of understanding even simple matters from GOD'S point of view. Proverbs are very simple for understanding's sake, yet very, very deep. Stepping out of Proverbs for a moment and going into Psalm 119, Dan exposes a foundational fault in today's culture. (I am sorely tempted to make an Emergent Church dig here, but will restrain myself). He points out Psalm 119:21 and then verse 85. Both speak of human arrogance and the folly of wandering from the revealed Word of God. It's the opposite of TRUST in God. Albeit I'm abridging a little, I'll let Dan speak for himself:

First, note verse 21: — "You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments." Accordingly, the essence of arrogance is not (as the postmodern would have it) the claim to know anything with certainty. Rather, arrogance is exposed as the refusal to bow the knee to God's Word. Next, we turn to Psalm 199:85—"The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to Your law." 

What is arrogance, then? In God's eyes, there simply is no greater arrogance than rejecting Yahweh's viewpoint in favor of my own. It is grimly fascinating that some Christians abhor the believer who dares to think he or she knows something from the Word. To such folks, claiming certainty on any given issue is the height of arrogance. They are certain that certainty is bad. By contrast, it is the height of arrogance to have a word from God and refuse to trust it by incorporating it into our way of thinking and living.

Dan then compares this attitude to two fundamental sins—that of the Serpent in Genesis 3, beginning with questioning whether God said something, followed quickly by denial, and then to exalt one's own judgment over that of God's. As Dan puts it, "arrogance posing as humility" and "arrogance posing as open-mindedness."

Are you hearing the crack of the rifle and the bullet hitting the exploding target? Dan then (as Solomon often does in Proverbs) contrasts this attitude with the heart-attitude and mindset of the faithful, quoting "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe" (Proverbs 29:25). Trusting in the Lord (and in His revealed Word) has benefits and positive consequences.

The second passage that gripped me was in Chapter 8 - "Skill in Godly Child Training." How does the wise and discerning child (and really, adult believer) respond to God's correction? This paragraph succinctly nails the absolute necessity of our proper response—in faith and trust—to God's Word:

Parental training is not magic or automatically effective, any more than Biblical preaching is magically powerful. In a Bible-teaching fellowship, one is at least exposed to the teaching of the Word on a regular basis. However, simply sitting and allowing one's eardrums to vibrate to the proclaimed Word makes no difference unless we take what we hear to heart in faith [cf. Heb 4:2 NAS, NIV; and James 1:22-27] (emphasis mine).

Dan then quotes a key proverb . . . A dense man spurns the discipline of his father, but he who keeps reproof acts shrewdly (Proverbs 15:5). I have seen many, many instances of this throughout my Christian life, and am again seeing it currently in the lives of a beloved Christian family whom I know. A Christian family that attended church, was involved in ministry, yet the home broke apart and some of the teen and young adult children went wayward. As Dan puts it, "the dense son "shines it on," as the kids used to say. He rejects it. What sets the wise son apart from the dense son is that he keeps instruction; he hangs on to it, he takes it to heart and makes it his own."

The ultimate goal of any parent or caregiver, as far as training in righteousness is concerned, is that the child takes the godly precepts taught (and hopefully lived out in the parents' lives without hypocrisy), and MAKES THEM HIS/HER OWN. They become the child's OWN precepts and standards, not merely ones imposed from the outside. And this also applies to adults. We can mouth all the Scriptures we like, and mouth them self-righteously to other people. But the proof is in the pudding, and people see the reality of our faith if they see the Scriptures we quote actually lived out in our lives.

In the end, all the clever fads and ideas won't cut it. The church-growth programs won't cut it. Seminars won't cut it. The slickest preacher with the most entertaining platform style won't cut it. What cuts it is hearing, believing and living the Word of God. The Holy Spirit works through His Word, and through His obedient people.

There is much more to "God's Wisdom in Proverbs," but my hope is that you will buy, read and absorb the book. I don't want to give away all the candy on the floor. Some might think the book may be too deep for a Sunday school class, but I disagree. This book could and should be used for Sunday school. And I need to reiterate something I said before when reviewing Dan's "The World Tilting Gospel," I said that I rarely make recommendations for Sunday school material other than the Bible. In general, we use way too many "curricula" and materials other than Scripture, and we have a generation in the church that is biblically illiterate as a result.

Dan's "God's Wisdom in Proverbs" is NOT that. It is intended to be used with God's Word firmly in hand. I recommend it highly. You won't regret the time to read it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Reflection

Every Christmas, I try to get something up on the blog that points to the Christ of Christmas—the reason for the season. Here in the West, Christmas is so commercialized that it's so easy to forget the main reason we even observe the day. Christmas is supposed to be focused on the glorious truth and hope of the Incarnation—that God the Son . . . the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. He came the first time to be our Savior, to pay the price for the sins of His people on the cross, and to rise again from the dead for our justification. And we await His promised return—to take His people to be with Him for eternity, and to return the second time as Judge to make a final end of evil.

But this time, I had something a bit different in mind. This Christmas, I have fractured families and fractured friendships in mind. For many families—especially most true Christian families—the Christmas holidays are times of joy, not only focused on the Savior, but also on the joy of family. I won't say non-Christian families don't have joyous family get-togethers on Christmas, but knowing the Lord Jesus as Savior and having the Holy Spirit indwelling makes an enormous difference in not only appreciating Christmas, but also each other.

Yet for others, Christmas can be a lonely, miserable time. Families getting together by all means, but some in the family look forward to the event about as much as they'd look forward to a root canal without Lidocaine. Some are impacted by death in the family, and the Christmas table looks empty without the loved one being there. In some families, the fact that some are Christians and some are not also creates some tension. You have the get together, and there will be the obnoxious family member who has to pass gas or say something crude in the middle of your before-dinner prayer, or start a quarrel. You know what I mean. You know the type.

Even professed Christian families are not immune to problems. I know of one family in ministry that has completely fallen apart at the seams, and no doubt this Christmas is filled with sorrow—at least to those whose consciences have not yet been completely seared by rebellion. I won't go into details, but it is heartbreaking to me. I've suffered to some extent in their issues, and have lost relationship with the children, some of whom are living lives of rebellion and are clueless that anything is the matter with their behavior.

Depicting the last days, the Scriptures paint a very sad picture of what can happen in a family when Christ is not the center of it. I often wonder if these days aren't nearer than we think . . .

When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved (Mark 13:11-13).

Sad and grim indeed. Probably not most cheerful Christmas post you've ever read. But I do think it is worth pondering in the midst of the presents, the food, the television and its rather perverted depictions of "Christmas normalcy," etc. A lot of hoo-hah to swim through to try and find once again the reason for this Season.

So I would urge all of us to pause, reflect, and remember. If you aren't a genuine believer who has repented of your sins and given your heart to the Lord, don't waste any more time. Do it now. You might not have the time left you think you do. You might not even greet the New Year. Make things right with God.

For Christian families—truly Christian ones—I would urge you to remember again what this day is supposed to be about. Remember to love one another, and live to love one another. Don't hurt the ones you love, because you won't have them forever. Honor Christ, the center of Christmas, not just now, but all year long.

May you all have a most blessed Christmas. Christ is born, and is coming again. Soon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Demonizing the NRA

It is a shame that here—only a few days before Christmas—we have to focus on guns, violence and society. A bit ironic also, because the little baby born in the stable and laid in a manger, the Savior of the world and the Creator Himself, is the ultimate solution for the ills that plague society. When one repents of their sins and trusts in Christ for salvation, certain things follow. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer, day by day conforming us into His image. Most importantly, enabling us to live the kind of lives God wants us to live. We learn how to love one another. And when we love one another (and love God), we're not out conducting mass murder.

I hope to put up a Christmas-themed post before Christmas, but in the wake of the NRA news conference today, I thought I should make some comment about it. Heaven knows, the rabid left and their media acolytes will.

You'll notice I used a drawn picture of an "average family." Why? Glad you asked!

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre made many excellent points and observations in his press statement. He didn't take questions, probably smart given the hostility of the media to the 120+year-old organization and our constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I read the Reuters account of the presser, and had to chuckle because of their inaccuracy on several counts. They called the NRA "press shy," which is laughable. The NRA usually has a tough time getting its message out via the "mainstream" media because everyone has to filter out the bias of the reporters and editorializing over the top of their statements. Two protesters stood up and began screaming in the midst of LaPierre's remarks and had to be forcibly removed. True to form, instead of addressing the FACTS that LaPierre was giving in his presser, they insisted "How do you answer these protests?" I guess they weren't listening to what Wayne was saying.

From the media to politicians to activists, the NRA is a favorite whipping boy today. They demonize the organization and its leadership as if they were personally responsible for Connecticut, Colorado, or any other atrocity committed with a firearm. Ridiculous of course, but to the propagandists that love to wave bloody shirts to guilt-trip people into accepting their demands for social-ill solutions, who cares if it's ridiculous and untrue.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill no less pretty much said the same thing when she in essence told the NRA to stick it, and demanding that it "come out of hiding." Pretty stupid and risky from a rural, gun-owning state like Missouri. The NRA has been training police, military, etc. for decades as far as safety issues, and has spoken out repeatedly on punishing perpetrators of violence and gun crimes. But no, McCaskill wanted to wave the bloody shirt because she thought she smelled a chance to kick an opponent in the groin.

Now let me make MY point. McCaskill, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NY Senator Chuckie Schumer, President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, etc. all miss a very vital point. The NRA is not a nameless, faceless organization. The NRA is made up of law-abiding, patriotic men, women and yes, teens and children. People like me and maybe people like you. Four million members across the United States. And now, there will be likely more as the zealots mentioned above and others will do their best to take advantage of this situation, and impose nonsensical gun legislation that will violate MY (and YOUR) Second Amendment rights. I am the NRA. And when you insult the NRA, you insult me. A voter and a taxpayer, to whom this issue is vitally important. Don't try guilt-tripping me. Non causa pro causa. It won't work, and I'm getting tired of it.

It's been said before, and it must be said again. The Second Amendment was not put into the Constitution to protect hunters. It was put into the Constitution so the American people would always have the means to defend itself from a government gone tyrannical. And don't think it can't happen here. It can. I'll never forget the late Senator Ted Kennedy, beet-red in the face and at his bloviating, huff-puffing best, overdoing his "outrage" at such a notion when this was pointed out in a Congressional hearing. "OUR government?!? Tyrannical? OUR government?!?"

Yes, Ted. OUR government, if it ever gets into the hands of thoroughly evil men and women. We have enough now in power who hate our country's noble history. They're enamored of Europe, Asia and Latin America, where totalitarian regimes don't have to pay attention to us—the great unwashed. They'd love a system where they could rule by fiat and do what they want, no matter how we the people feel about it.

We have enough people originally from outside this country (such as the despicable George Soros) who do not value its history or understand what the American Revolution was all about, who are now in this country as citizens, trying to radically make this nation into something the Founders never would countenance.

We believe in freedom, and in holding on to the things given to us by the Founders to help us maintain that freedom. We believe in law and order, and decency. We are also not misty-eyed idiots who refuse to recognize the true, fallen nature of man that needs restraint, idiots who think the government could NEVER do anything wrong, or would EVER trample on our basic rights.

I believe in freedom, and I'm getting tired of those who want to take mine away. I don't think I'm alone in that feeling, either. Votes count, and this man will be watching and voting in every local, state and federal election. I will only vote for those who will hold to our Founding Principles. It's time we sent that message loud and clear, and it's time we refuse to fall for the false guilt that zealots are trying to foist on us.

Are you with me?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guns, Violence, Freedom and Demagoguery

Joel's Note: The following is polemic. It is not intended as a footnoted, researched position paper with documentation etc. This is written from the heart from a lifetime of watching the way "public discourse" happens. You may not agree with me and may challenge my conclusions, opinions, etc. And that's fine. But this is how I feel on a very painful issue. And there are much larger issues at stake rather than the immediate crisis. Nothing in this is intended as insensitivity to the many who have lost children and loved ones in Connecticut, or in any other mad, murderous rampage. But as bad as these things are, the loss of freedom is much, much worse. We can't see it as Americans. We've never known it. But other people from around the world where tyranny reigns know it all too well. We need to listen to their voices while we consider our own fate as a nation.

This fall and early winter have been days that I'd rather forget for many reasons. Personal health has been an adventure, with three kidney lithotripsy procedures since April. Then a touch of pneumonia. And we have to begin the Christmas holiday season with a senseless, evil mass shooting and murder of little schoolchildren in Connecticut.

I hoped (vainly) that people might hold off on the politics of gun control vs. firearm freedom and the Second Amendment to give people a chance to mourn the dead, but to the radical left activists with whom gun control is a sacrament right up there with abortion, no such deal. The demagoguery began before the children's bodies had even been moved out of the school.

I chose the famous painting of abolitionist John Brown for a purpose. It vividly depicts the kind of possessed, self-righteous zeal so many one-issue activists have when dealing with a controversial issue. Do not read into that statement (and some devious, malevolent-minded might try to tar me with such a suggestion) that I disagree with ending of slavery. I do not. Slavery needed to end, and African-Americans deserved (and deserve) to have the full measure of civil and human rights. Because they are human beings and of "one blood" (Acts 17:26) with me—Caucasian though I am. A tragedy indeed that it took a Civil War and 500,000 plus deaths to bring that result to pass, and even then, it took until the 1960s to get rid of Jim Crow laws etc. that gave blacks the rights that were rightfully theirs. But we got there. Our Constitutional system eventually worked as it should as hearts and minds were changed.

But the John Brown types scare us. And they should, because they have no compunction on bringing down the whole house if they think it will advance their cause. The more dead? So be it. To the zealous, possessed activist who knows no other cause, nothing is too extreme to reach their goal. No other viewpoint than their own is acceptable. And anyone who doesn't exactly see it eye-to-eye is an automatic enemy, even if they have similar goals. The demagogues always manage to get the attention, and the more reasonable, level-headed get ignored because they're not as entertaining and motivating. The media love them. Can you imagine a John Brown in today's electronic media climate and 24 hour news cycle? Oh, mercy!

Sometimes we need folks like this to galvanize public attention, and sometimes, they can do good. But more often than not, they end up damaging the cause they hope to accomplish because the general public is turned off by their overheated rhetoric and violent tenor. Some abortion activists are another good example. I am pro-life and have been for years, and believe that abortion is only acceptable to save the life of the mother. But I believe hearts and minds must be changed, and the tactics of some of my fellow pro-life comrades are so offensive they accomplish the opposite result. Showing up with pictures of bloody babies with young children present who could be traumatized by such photos. Yelling and screaming "baby killer" at women or young teenagers. They really are not helping the cause, and the media has a field day taking this small minority of pro-life people and making them representative of the rest of us. It hurts the cause.

Now we have another school shooting. And I have posted to the left a picture of the wording of the Second Amendment. I believe some of the anti-gun zealots out there salivate over horrendous tragedies like Connecticut because it gives them fodder to be John Browns and argue an important issue fueled by emotion instead of fact and truth. Unfortunately for them, at least John Brown was ultimately right on the evil of slavery. Those who want to shred the Second Amendment and ban private ownership of firearms do not have that high moral ground on which to stand, no matter how much they try to demagogue and use the tragedy of mass shootings to propagandize people and try to get their way.

Whether these folks like it or not, the fact that crazies get hold of guns and commit mass murder does not justify tearing out a piece of our Constitution and taking away the right of self-defense (keeping and bearing arms) from a law-abiding public. Contrary to some of what these anti-gun zealots tell you, the Second Amendment was not put into the Constitution to protect the right to hunt. It was not intended by our Founders to only apply to the military or state National Guards. The founders viewed the "militia" as every able-bodied man, and the primary intent of protecting the right of people to keep and bear arms was for one primary purpose—for the people to protect themselves from an overreaching, potentially tyrannical government. The late Ted Kennedy had near apoplexy when someone pointed out that truth, but that's Ted's problem. It's the truth, and it still applies. Ideas and principles are not invalid simply because they are old. Some principles and ideas are timeless, and so it is with the Second Amendment. Our right to keep and bear arms is inviolable and unalienable, and necessary. ANY human government can cross the line into tyranny. Even in American history, the government has overreached from time to time, and had to be slapped back by the courts or other means to remind them that they are to serve the public, and the public are the masters, not the government.

The rabid anti-gun activists—folks like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, billionaire immigrant far-left activist George Soros, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (and formerly, Mayor Daley)—find the Constitution a great hindrance to their goals. They were incensed when the Supreme Court recognized the Second Amendment to confer an individual right to keep and bear arms. But that won't stop them from trying to get their way through any means possible. President Obama has already indicated as much, Constitution be damned. And they wave the bloody shirts as an emotional bludgeon, hoping to guilt-trip and intimidate a grieving public into giving in and surrendering their rights. Their ultimate goal is not "reasonable restrictions" (Define "reasonable," by the way). Their true, ultimate goal is the total ban of weapons in private hands, no matter how much they lie and say that's not the case. Short of an outright ban, they hope to make exercise of the right to keep and bear arms as expensive and difficult as possible. They'll try ammo bans, bans on certain makes of weapons, taxes, and a host of other tricks. They will not give up until the majority of Americans who believe in their rights slap them down through the ballot box, and with their firm voices.

It is hard to make manifestos such as this at a time such as this. As Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto and others have ably pointed out, decorum would normally hold off on politics until the dead are buried, and people have a chance to mourn. We'd rather not have to argue this (AGAIN) now. But the rabid anti-Second Amendment activist politicians and groups know and recognize no such decorum. "Never waste a good crisis" is their motto, and they see this as their time to strike. Nature abhors a vacuum. As much as we grieve the deaths of the children in Connecticut, the other side of this issue is taking every advantage to bang their drum and scream as loudly as possible. That necessitates that we speak up and defend our views just as forcefully.

Understand this if you don't understand anything else. Our Founding Fathers were wise beyond measure. You like the Bill of Rights? You like freedom of speech? Freedom of worship and religion? Freedom of assembly? Guess what? The Second Amendment is the GUARANTOR of those rights that were so hard won in the American Revolution. Ben Franklin told a woman once that the Founders had given us a Representative Republic, "if you can keep it." If we surrender on this issue, we are well on the way to not keeping the Republic intended for us.

There have always been slayings and murders in American history. Sometimes large numbers of people. America is not alone. They've happened in other countries where gun laws are very strict—Norway being a recent example. Evil people can find other ways to kill besides firearms. Timothy McVeigh used a truckload of fertilizer to make a bomb. Where there's a will, there's a way. The human heart is wicked without the intervention of God, and daily life proves the truth of that biblical statement.

And that's another accomplishment of the far left. They've managed to excise God out of many things in our public discourse, and they'd love removal of God entirely from everything. They'd love it if Christians would shut up and keep their faith behind church walls, and keep it out of public life. Our Founders would be infuriated at such a thing, but so it is today. And they have the gall to call it patriotic and in keeping with our Founding values. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One more point on propaganda, demagoguery and doing things on purpose to hype emotion for maximum impact. Cynicism embodied. The photo to the left is the famous picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, the "Reverend" Jesse Jackson and others at the Memphis motel where Dr. King was assassinated later. Much has been made of Jackson reportedly taking Dr. King's blood and wiping it on his shirt, and then using the bloody shirt for political purposes. Even some of Jackson's fellow civil rights leaders at the time (and today) were very uncomfortable with what Jackson allegedly did. But it was intended to have a galvanizing, emotional impact to fan the flames for a political objective. To repeat, my using this as an example is NOT to denigrate the CAUSE for which these men were fighting. Their cause was legitimate. But tactics like this can be misused—even evilly and cynically. The best of the civil rights leaders were fighting to gain rights that a class of citizens were due and justified in having. In the case of the Second Amendment, we have a host of zealot activists working overtime—not to GAIN OR KEEP a right of the people, but rather to take it away from law-abiding people. And they are shamelessly using deaths to advance their cause—in this case, a cause that is dangerous and dead wrong.

If the Chinese people had the right to keep and bear arms, the Tiananmen Square massacre could have been stopped. If the Russian people had the right to keep and bear arms, Joseph Stalin's midnight purges could have been stopped. If the German people's right to keep and bear arms had not been ended by Adolf Hitler, the great evil of the Nazi regime might have been stopped before 6 million Jewish people died in the gas chambers.

Dr. John Lott's book, "More Guns, Less Crime," discuss some of these matters. There are many other resources available on this issue. Read up on it, and stand firm.

Our opponents will do all they can to bully us into submission. They'll yell. They'll scream. They'll abuse. They'll call names. They'll litigate and litigate. They'll introduce legislation over and over again, not taking the Supreme Court's no for an answer. These same folks who say they believe in the legal principle of "stare decisis" will suddenly say "not in this case." They'll try to replace Justices who will vote their way and reverse the 5-4 decision recognizing our Second Amendment rights. They might even try a United Nations treaty circumvention if they think they can get away with it. They'll call us ignorant. They'll call us hillrods and hicks. They'll try to say we're responsible for the death of every child. They're shameless.

And we need to steel ourselves against the full court press of the guilt trip. We need to reject the false guilt entirely and with vigor. We need to get right back in their faces and make it clear that they will be allowed to take NO ONE's rights away. In fact, we need to understand there is a difference between a right and a privilege. A privilege can be lawfully taken away. In the view of our Founders (and I agree), rights are GOD-GIVEN, unalienable, and CANNOT lawfully be taken away. There was even a huge debate at adoption of the Constitution over whether there should be a Bill of Rights. Those opposed viewed these rights as natural, and they were worried that codifying them in an actual Bill of Rights would lead to the government thinking down the road that they could abolish the rights if they saw fit. Their caution in these days is shown to be justified, because that's exactly what some of the zealots think. They think if they repeal the Second Amendment, that takes away our rights. It will not. We need to stand on that.

In conclusion, I'll be the first to agree that there ARE things that need to be done to reduce gun violence. We need to enforce the adequate gun laws ALREADY on the books. We need to prosecute gun criminals to the fullest extent of the law and execute murderers if they don't kill themselves first. A good first step would be for our idiot government not to pull stunts like Fast and Furious, which put assault weapons in the hands of drug gangs. It is believed that this plot ultimately was intended to be used as a fulcrum to leverage for tightening gun laws in violation of the Second Amendment. It backfired, and that's why the liberal media tries to sweep this scandal under the rug.

We need to get back to foundational morality in the country, and reject the leftist notion that God, faith, moral lessons etc. need to be removed because "such things have no business in the schools or in the public square." We need to recognize the impact of violent films and entertainment. We need to be much better at spotting potential problem children, teens and adults. We need to re-visit the ACLU-driven drive to de-institutionalize the mentally ill in the name of "human rights." Some folks have no business on the street, but they've made it next to impossible to institutionalize someone.

Well, I've ranted enough for one night. Since I have only made a handful of posts this month, this long one will give you plenty to read for a while. I'll try to have something more uplifting and edifying for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Medical and Scientific "Consensus?"

Now that President Obama has been re-elected to a second term, chances for repeal of the gargantuan (and I believe, ultimately destructive) health care law are slim. But the debate won't end, and I won't give up hope for ultimate repeal.

In the meantime, I came across this commentary by Iowa surgeon Dr. Lee Hieb. Dr. Hieb is a practicing orthopedic surgeon, and in her commentary on the benefits of Vitamin D, she also paints a very disturbing picture on how official "consensus" could be helping to kill us.

This not only applies in the medical field, but we also see it in the overall scientific field these days, especially in "global warming" or so-called "climate change." The "consensus" on this really isn't a consensus, and quite a few meteorologists and scientists dispute the issue. But the politics are behind the official "consensus," and I strongly suspect the real motivation behind solutions to "climate change" aren't so much to impact the climate as they are to control people.

Regardless, very interesting article by Dr. Hieb. Tempted to go out and buy some Vitamin D!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Persecuted Atheists

I've been out of commission for a while, and noticed that I haven't had anything new up on the blog for a week. And what do I find awaiting me in the news right before Christmas? This little report about persecution of atheists around the world.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't like or condone persecution of anyone for their beliefs, no matter how much I might disagree with them. However, given the current atheist war on Christianity here in the United States and elsewhere, I find this news report just a bit ironic. It was just in the news the other day (from Little Rock, Arkansas) that a performance of a Charlie Brown Christmas at a school is now cancelled because one atheist complained.

Interesting, isn't it? They're so bothered by something in which they claim not to believe. When I was in public school, I had to sit through classes where Eastern mysticism or other philosophies (even atheism) with which I disagreed were on the menu. I tolerated it. And why? Because here in America, we're supposed to have freedom. But the tolerance I extended isn't reciprocated these days. Freedom now means taking it away.

How Orwellian.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Visit the Cliff House Inn!

Like the lovely view on the right? That's what you'll see in the morning after a peaceful night's rest at the Cliff House Inn near Jasper, Arkansas.

I don't often give business advertisements or endorsements on The Seventh Sola, but I will for the Cliff House. This place will always be special in my heart. It's located just south of Jasper along scenic Ark Route 7 in the Buffalo River country—in the heart of the western Arkansas Ozark Mountains.

I have stopped and eaten at the Cliff House several times through the years during my travels in AR. I have also stayed for several days in the inn part, located on the lower level of the restaurant building. The previous owners and the new owners are wonderful people and make you feel right at home. The food is great, especially the Angel Flake biscuits! There is a nice little gift shop where you can buy Ozark souvenirs. And the view from both the restaurant and the inn balcony is breathtaking. You can get up in the morning to watch the sunrise, and you'll find to your surprise on opening the door that there will be a carafe of hot coffee, mugs, cream and sugar on a tray outside your room waiting for you. Then, you can sit, relax, talk to the Lord and watch with wonder as the sun rises over the mountain ridge across the Buffalo River Canyon. If you're lucky, there will be clouds wafting below you through the canyon, especially if rain has fallen the evening before after a hot summer day.

The Buffalo River itself, of course, is the most beautiful river in the country as far as I am concerned. Stop in, take a dip, cool off, and even hike some of the many trails in the region. Be sure you take a camera.

The price of the rooms has gone up a bit since I last stayed, but to me, the $80 a night is well worth it. There is a larger suite if you want it, and the cost is a bit more. And after looking on the Cliff House website, I see that they have acquired some nearby cabins for guests to stay if you want a more rustic, private setting. I actually stayed at these very cabins when they were owned by someone else, and they're great!

So if you're in the mood for a vacation and a good place to get away from it all, visit this area, and stay/eat at the Cliff House. You'll be glad you did!