Category Archives: current events

And Jesus Showed God’s Love by Guiding Sick, Injured, Poor People to Purchase “Free Market” Care

Portion of terra cotta panel at a former hospital in Liverpool. HistoricEngland.org.

Now, I hope you, dear reader, know that the title to this essay is absurd.i  The current state of affairs of our nation’s “health care” is problematic, and may soon get much worse in terms of how we (so-called Christians) treat people and in comparison to how other “westernized” countries of means, who seem to be less “Christian” than the U.S., treat theirs. I’m not just talking socialized medicine necessarily, but costs relative to care generally; they obviously consider what is going on with health care deliverers and regulate things appropriately to keep costs far lower than what you find in the states (while maintaining better health outcomes, too).ii  Why are these other countries more astute and caring than us in this “great and smart nation”? Who or what we serve is the difference. Our country serves Money (behind the guise of Freedom).iii

Of course our current system is broken, and virtually everyone agrees that it needs at least some fixes. But those who justify repealing “Obamacare” (the Affordable Care Act) are not dealing with the core issues that are driving costs, while also ignoring a not-so-distant past when a great many persons didn’t have insurance. Ignoring all the heartache, deaths, bankruptcies, and suicides from that time, and the pre-ACA steep rises in premiums as well. Repealing Obamacare and throwing money at the states—much less money over the course of years—will not at all solve the basis for the wildly high costs of health care in America (which are still rapidly rising). The ACA contributed to this problem, but it’s not at all the single cause. The GOP talked of draining the swamp, but they are mired as deep into it as ever, as far as I can see; they couldn’t even include in their proposed legislation one of their long-term pet ideas, to open up insurance competition across state lines.iv

As it stands right now, the very very poor will still be eligible for Medicaid in the near future.  A number of poor that are in expanded Medicaid states will lose out relatively quickly (and I am going to say that it was cruel to leave people uncovered simply because they lived in a geography of no such expanded coverage), including the elderly in assisted living environments. I know that there’re plenty of people out there who don’t want to pay for much medicaid because they think people receiving it are lazy and taking advantage of the system. I’ve seen hearts-of-stone arguments regarding this, and it is not up to Christians to worry and judge so much about deceivers (and a lot of fraud is perpetuated by doctors, not patients). Deceivers will be found out and God will deal with them in His own way; our role is to lead people to Christ, even deceivers, if possible. We’re supposed to be the lights in a dark place here, not the judge.

The fact that there may be deceivers has nothing to do with helping the sick, who are often very poor because of their illness. It makes zero sense to push people who are very ill to work harder or at all in order to pay for health insurance: how can they work, and who would hire them? A lot of people get fired when they become sick—are you going to make their employer hire them back?  To even suggest this requirement is a hypocrisy and promoting a deception.  I bet a lot of these same people would nurse a sick or injured dog and not think anything of it. The dog would be getting all that care and attention for free, yet they insult and kick around those beings made in God’s image.  “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9, NIV).

But What Did Christ Do and Teach about Sickness and health?

Whatever it was He did and taught, that’s what we’re to do (or at least try!). The very first hospitals that freely treated poor patients were Christian, because the followers that started them received Christ’s teaching and tried to follow His example.  What was Christ’s example?  Well, get this.  It is estimated that He spent 80% of His time healing people.v  He met people where they were at in their need in order to show that God was a God who was there for them, not some aloof diety.  If you haven’t gotten this from reading the New Testament, read it again more carefully.  There’s a difference between how we perceive what is written regarding what was said and what was done. Seeing as the disciples didn’t have computers and cheap paper, you have to think about what was going on based on the few words chosen.vi  “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25, NIV). (I love John. Just think what a bold statement that was for his time period.) So, I think I could write a book on Jesus’ and his disciples’ works of healing, but I’m going to limit the examples to two very brief ones here; two that I think provide much insight into God’s will for our thinking in this matter (and the author of both, Luke, was a physician).

The Good Samaritan

(The full and short story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.) In this story, a “faithful” person wanted to justify himself, we’re told (that is, justify his actions or lack thereof), asking Jesus to define “neighbor” (the person who he had to love as himself).  So, Jesus told the little story commonly known as The Good Samaritan.  In it, two spiritually high-level Jews purposefully ignored a half-dead man lying in the road.  The man was there after suffering violence. But a man who the Jews would have despised (if not really hated), a Samaritan, stopped and helped the stricken stranger.  (Samaritans were considered idolatrous half-breeds who accepted only Moses’ scriptures and ignored the rest).  He not only treated the man’s wounds as best he could right there in the road, but took him to an inn and paid for his expenses, including whatever additional treatment the inn keeper could provide.  So Jesus’ (offensive) answer to the question was that the stranger in need who you happen to come across is your “neighbor” and worthy of your assistance/love. Perhaps God puts such situations in front of us, expecting us to provide His blessings–to be His hands.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

(The full and short story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31.)  Another story Jesus told was that of an unnamed “rich man” and a poor diseased beggar named Lazarus.  Lazarus suffered greatly, and his situation hadn’t changed after someone laid him at the rich man’s gate. The rich man lived in luxury his whole life, never lifted a finger to help Lazarus (even with him at his gate!), and ends up in hell upon death.  Sometime later, Lazarus himself died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom (without getting into a big theological discussion, just say heaven).  Lazarus, although he suffered on earth and might have seemed cursed to some, was in fact blessed by God; God knew his name and in the end Lazarus found rest and peace. The story continues with Abraham telling the rich man, who tries to intercede on behalf of his still living brothers, that his brothers (like himself) have not listened to Moses and the prophets. Therefore, neither will they listen to someone who was raised from the dead. They have no faith in anything or anyone else.  All in life is for self, and they are so focused on that that they can’t see anything else.

The poor and diseased are at our gate, the gate of the wealthy and powerful United States, and we only hear of ways to cut back funds for them in order to help those better off.  We don’t hear talk about greed, the high value of medical industry stocks that benefit government employee pensions, the extreme amount of money the medical industry puts into lobbying, advertising, and other types of influence, etc.  Costs do need to come down for everyone, but not at the expense of the poor, disabled, diseased, and elderly.  Price reductions need to come down by appropriate and humane means that deal with greed, corruption, and catering to the wealthy.  And our church leaders need to say so out loud, to let those in need see that God is there, and loving, and not an aloof diety.  God isn’t dead, but what of the visible church?

Notes

i  Setting aside for a moment the fantasy of a truly “free market” economy, such a market would be for choosing which potato chip brand you want to buy, not whether or not you or your child lives or dies. Markets have nothing at all do with the human need to get life sustaining help from one’s fellow man. It’s too weird that this kind of thing even needs to be said . . . that there’s this context in America where the idea of needing to say it had been formed. I don’t see how we can move further away from God than we are now.
ii  See 2015 International Profile on Health Care Systems (at the time of this writing, the most up-to-date report) and The U.S. Health Care System: An International Perspective (2016).
iii  And why don’t we have preachers out there preaching on greed and the root of evil, money (1 Timothy 6:10, but many more verses are needed for the understanding of greed and its consequences)? Jesus was radical. When He walked the earth, people knew of Him. It is really no wonder the church in America is so weak, as it just doesn’t seem to even exist.  Jesus knew what people’s needs and concerns were, he was anti-establishment (anti-world system) and the book of James is very much so as well.  I think people know this inherently; they know if God is speaking to them and their needs, and they’re not seeing it come out of today’s Christian institutions. Preachers aren’t publicly denouncing financial scandals or a living wage being denied to laborers.
iv  Besides the sources found in note ii regarding costs, here are bipartisan recommendations from persons well-experienced in the system: JAMA Forum: Reforming Medicaid
v  Healing is a Major Aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
vi  You have to use your imagination, as the common expression goes, but some Christians fear this type of mental exercise. Many only use the scriptures as a moral rule book, and they like to throw that rule book at people. Right living comes after receiving God’s spirit, not before. In any case, a dashed reading through the scriptures will not yield the insights into God’s will that we need for living His way.

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New Youtube Communist . . . er, Monetezation Guidelines Petition

Hello All!  If you haven’t heard of the Youtube controversy yet, it’s about “censorship.”  While some will say that the new policy is not “censorship,” especially since Youtube is privately owned, in essence it is one big tool for shutting the mouths of those who are not politically correct (natural disasters are now a no-no too).  So whatever you want to call it, it’s not good for free speech, learning about and sharing various opinions, and helping to keep this country from completely losing its democratic basis (a controlled and uninformed public simply can’t be democratic).

A number of articles say, quoting Youtube officials, that the policy isn’t new, actually.  I don’t believe this.  But if it’s true that it’s not new, the fact that Youtube is enforcing it now IS new.  So it kind-of doesn’t matter–the point is just a deflection.  This is what the policy says, in part:  “Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown” will be demonetized.

If you’re a Christian or know about the culture wars that have been raging, you can imagine how stifling this policy might be.   Youtube, arguably, would be able to demonetize anything.  It has even demonetized suicide help videos.  While the creators can petition Youtube to remonetize these videos, one only has to imagine the sweeping nature of this video censoring practice.  Of course, if Youtube’s program is anything like Hilary’s email search engine, who knows what it’ll find or miss.  And speaking of Hilary, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she has something to do with this.  Look at the timing, look at the ability to demonetize your work if it contains a “sensitive subject” or includes “political conflict” (and “natural disasters”?!?).

Please consider signing the little petition:  Make Youtube Change Its New Community Guidelines .   At the time of this writing, it needs one more signer in order for the petition to actually show up publicly at Change.org.

For further reading and viewing:

Youtube Declares War on Politically Incorrect Opinions

Creators Call Out Youtube for Demonetizing Content

 

He is Risen Indeed (Hallelujah!), and this Terrorized World Needs His Return

Isaiah 5:20 by Vicki PriestAt the close of this year’s Easter, please enjoy this passage from Zechariah 12, prophesying Christ’s second coming.  With so many in the world calling evil good and good evil, which has allowed the growth of the murderous terrorists, we need His return.  Look for His return, and pray you are ready.

Zechariah 12:1-2, 9-11:

“A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel.  The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling . . . .  On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.  And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.  On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo’.”

As Matthew Henry commented:

“It is a mourning grounded upon a sight of Christ:  They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him.  Here, it is foretold that Christ should be pierced, and this scripture is quoted as that which was fulfilled when Christ’s side was pierced upon the cross; see John 19:37.  He is spoken of as one whom we have pierced; it is spoken primarily of the Jews, who persecuted him to death (and we find that those who pierced him are distinguished from the other kindreds of the earth that shall wail because of him, Rev. 1:7); yet it is true of us all as sinners, we have pierced Christ, inasmuch as our sins were the cause of his death, for he was wounded for our transgressions, and they are the grief of his soul . . .”

Tragic Times of Persecution

I don’t go looking for evil acts, but my son brought to my attention a couple of attacks carried out by Muslims recently, that is, after the Brussels bombing.  So I looked into them, and found some other things, too.

Today in Pakistan, 65 Easter celebrants were killed and about 300 injured.

A Muslim shopkeeper, a Mr. Shah, was murdered for wishing Christians and his country well at Easter time.  He was apparently a very kind and humanitarian man, who sought understanding and good relations between Muslims and Christians.  He therefore was killed.  I very much disagree, however, with someone who left a note saying “Mr Shah, [a] true Muslim, thank you, from a Christian brother.”  Christians follow Jesus Christ, who was nonviolent, taught against violence, and died after having performed healing miracles and leading a sinless life (including never having had sexual relations).

Muhammad, in contrast, killed many and had his men kill many (including those who had surrendered to his army and others who simply criticized him, even a woman poet); apparently this isn’t taught in schools.  He did not perform miracles and he was polygamous.  Muhammad represents Islam and therefore it’s reasonable that adherents would look to its founder and leader as the prime example in carrying out the faith.  That’s what Christians do (or are supposed to be doing), so a good Muslim would do what Muhammad did.  (And getting back to the Christian who called Mr. Shah “brother,” I wonder how John or Paul would react to calling a person “brother” who denied the resurrection and deity of Jesus?  Perhaps Mr. Shah was in fact saved [God knows], but Muslims do not believe in Jesus; it makes for a very huge difference between the faiths.  Brothers and sisters in the New Testament are fellow believers in Jesus Christ.)

Besides not seeming to know what Muhammad was like, the Muslims who are kind and caring don’t seem to know what the Koran and its important commentaries seem to say either.  It’s like the experience of the Boston Bombers.  The mother tells her older son that he needs to stop being so worldly and get into his faith more.  When he does, he sees what the Koran says and what Muhammad did, and acts accordingly.  The mother realizes her son is right and becomes “radicalized” too.   The Judeo-Christian scriptures aren’t corrupt as Muslims think–as Muhammad made out–but promote love for all humans and faith in the creator God, so anyone who comes along later with a different message is obviously not of God.  How much more bad fruit needs to fall for people to realize this?

Teacher Brutally Murdered by Afghan Migrant

Germany: Muslim Rape Crisis Worsens (from Gatestone Institute)

Where I’ve Been & the Christian Genocide Resolution

Port Huron, 1939 USGS section
Port Huron, from 1939 USGS quad map.

Hello and happy Tuesday!  I haven’t posted in a while (which isn’t terribly unusual, I know), and knowing full well that my mind has been elsewhere, I wanted to give a “why.”  As I’ve posted about before, we moved from Southern California back to my home state of Michigan, and more specifically, to Port Huron.  We decided on this location because of all the water (and we happily concur that the St. Clair area’s nick name of Blue Water is justified), because we could afford to buy a low-cost house, and because–on paper, at least–it looked like there were enough jobs to keep us going.

(We originally wanted to move to Grand Rapids, which is the only region in Michigan really recovered from the last “recession,” but couldn’t get help with buying a low-cost home at a distance . . . realtors have replaced the lowest place holder of the employed in my mind now, with lawyers bumped up one.)

While the job front turned out to be less rosy than we anticipated, I have enjoyed getting back into my older career choice involving historical resources.  I used to work in cultural resources management–prehistory, then history–until consulting jobs became too far away from my family (as you might imagine, permanent employment in this field is rare and you have to be willing to move to wherever you can get it).

Now that we live in a place with obvious history and historic structures, my passion for investigating those things has been rekindled.   And finding that the city is a very mixed bag of preservation and anit-preservation sentiment (the state is having an anti-preservation infection now, too), which is reflected in how much a regular person can find out about it here, I decided to make a web page about it, with the hope that others would like it and benefit from it and a group would form.  I’ve spent a ton of my time getting up to speed on the history in Port Huron, catching up on preservation laws and such, and building the site:  Port Huron Area History & Preservation Association.

St Joseph Church, Port Huron
One of the historic churches in Port Huron, St. Joseph’s.

The city, being one of the older and busier ones in historic Michigan, has quite a few grand old churches, too.  And, I never ended up posting about something that we, as Christians, were excited to find here:  nativity scenes out in public areas at Christmas time.  How refreshing!  There weren’t a huge number of them, but they did pop up, and one felt that you might hear a “Merry Christmas!” come your way and not just a “happy holidays.”  I did run across an internet post somewhere by a lady who had lived here and moved to Tennessee, where there was even more openness and  joy displayed over Christmas, not just “the holidays.”  She was critical of Port Huron, but it is better here than where we used to live.

On a very different note, the US house of representatives voted 383-0 (!) in favor of calling what ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq and Syria “genocide.”  Other countries in the world that seem to be less sympathetic towards Christians have already declared that Christian genocide has been happening.  Why is the US behind in doing so?  Obama and his administration, that’s why.  It’s strange how this administration can use the arguments of the persecutors to justify a “not genocide” stance when others know from either experience of research that the actions behind those arguments are covers for murderous intent, for the actual genocide going on.  Read about it at House Votes to Declare ISIS’s Actions ‘Genocide’: What’s Next? , House Passes Resolution Calling ISIS’ Mass Slaughter of Christians a ‘Genocide’, and at other online news outlets.

“The facts are well documented in our nearly 300-page report on this matter, and we must remember that for the State Department to issue declaration of genocide, the standard required is merely probable cause, which any prosecutor could find on any of ISIS’s Facebook pages.”  S. Smith, 03-15-16

 

Apple’s Taken the Power (for Criminals)

I’m not going over all the background of the iphone controversy, except to say that Apple refuses to cooperate in the investigation of one of the mass murderers in the December 2, 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California.  14 people were killed and 22 gravely injured.  The radicalized Muslims, husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook and Tahsfeen Malik, also planned to set a bomb off.  Normally, investigators can get a search warrant to look at suspects’ phone records.  This has been constitutional and normal practice, useful in a variety of ways, for criminal investigators.

Now, with ever more sophisticated hardware and software, criminals can hide their phone correspondence, and in the case of Apple iphones, they can permanently hide information from investigators that historically could not be hidden.  It is constitutional in our country to investigate crimes in this way, yet Apple is holding our legal system–backed by the constitution–hostage.

And yet TV commentator after commentator is acting as if this is all something new and a questionable invasion of privacy.  They say that the government is asking Apple to be a “lock pick” into someone’s private data, but since Apple made the lock in the first place (that is, a way for criminals to conceal information), this argument is silly and obnoxious.  They say if Apple is forced to do this, other countries will be able to use it against innocent people, like political dissidents and journalists.  Really?  (Really??)  There are ways around this, I’m pretty sure, but high-profit international companies wouldn’t want to go there (if you have a company that is strictly US based, can Iran make you do something?).  Maybe I’m giving the likes of Apple too much “benefit of the doubt” by even thinking this claim is a real possibility.  I’d like to hear from legal experts in this specific field, since I’m only hearing conjecture.

In any case, Apple has taken the power and not our investigators, as they’re trying to claim.  Various people and organizations (Google, Twitter), now even Amazon (boycott Amazon?), are backing Apple.  Why?  It makes no sense.  How paranoid does a person have to be that they’re worried that the FBI or whoever wants to take the time to listen to their phone?  And, I for one don’t want my choices made for me by hugely powerful companies like Google and Facebook; based on their current censorship and other actions, they are worse than our own government investigators.♦

This brought to my mind the issue that blacks have brought up in claiming racism in the justice system.  I agree with them on this one:  why are all the white folks who take drugs free (think of all those Hollywood types, even), while so many blacks are behind bars due to drug sentences?  So, are the whites simply worried that they’ll now be get caught buying cocaine?  It’s kind-of a rhetorical question, but I don’t know where the paranoia is coming from.  And I don’t get how Americans think it’s OK to protect the mass murderers in this case.  Criminals, it so often seems, have more rights than their victims.  And now that is more the truth than ever.  The criminals must laugh themselves to sleep at night.

Isaiah 5:20 by Vicki Priest♦ These companies know how dumb Americans are, I’m guessing, since internet users constantly give them access to private things like email contacts, people in private circles (a Google+ thing), allow them to make posts FOR them at Twitter, Facebook, etc., and allow these companies to follow new people without their permission, etc.  If you don’t think so, just try posting a comment at any number of online magazines/newspapers, etc., and read the conditions.  Yet, these same Americans complain loudly about investigators trying to look at one phone of a confirmed mass murderer . . .

The Absurdity Within: X-Files Episode 5, Season 10

X-Files Ep 5 Mulder's Trip
Mulder during his “shroom” (or placebo?) trip

The new X-Files season, a short one that renews the series after being off the air for 14 years, is a very mixed bag.  A very very mixed bag.  Episode 5 is practically one long platitude, while episode 3 is brilliant (literally, my favorite TV episode ever made, out of all I can remember, anyway).

X-Files Season 10

I’m going to make this section short.  X-Menesque mutants debut in episode 2, after in episode 1 Mulder talks of having the new revelation that men are using alien stuff to evolve humans and improve technology.  While critics ate this stuff up as a critical reflection of modern American politics, I thought it disappointingly silly, since I was pretty sure Mulder had already thought this (that is, his new revelation) from watching the previous shows.  It’s what I took away from the X-Files in the past, anyway, so it seemed cheap and confusing.  Most of the new episodes are quite gory, too (that is, gorier than before).

Continue reading The Absurdity Within: X-Files Episode 5, Season 10

Raping of Women and Children Now Allowed in the West; Why Not, Eh?

CS Lewis sun quote
Through God can we see good and beauty, as well as contrasting evil and malignancy, and seek to keep victims from the latter.

“Amnesty International reports that Sweden has the highest number of rapes in Europe and the lowest conviction rate. According to Swedish Public Radio, in Stockholm alone, over 1,000 Swedish women reported that a Muslim immigrant raped them; 300 were under age 15.”  “What the EU fails to acknowledge and each country is realizing is that Muslim immigrants have no intention of integrating. Eighty percent are on welfare, following Islamic teaching to take money from the non-Muslim “Kuffar.” Both Sharia4Belgium and Sharia4Holland advocate complete extinction of Jews.”  As Christianity Exits Europe, ‘Criminal Muslims’ Fill Void with Rabid Violence (Dec 2014).

A chronology of the violence (including honor killings – or are those just “misunderstandings”?) and non-integration Muslim immigrant issues, via linked news articles.

Continue reading Raping of Women and Children Now Allowed in the West; Why Not, Eh?

Frustration Defined: Trump, Donald

Frustration (google search image).
Frustration (google search image).

Anyone can verbalize some much needed and tougher foreign policy ideas.  And, other Republican candidates have.  But for Trump to go on and on and on at the January 14th debate about the false issue of Cruz not being a naturally born citizen . . . he’s willing to promote false issues, look stupid, name call . . . and whatever to get ahead.

Angry frustration
Angry frustration (google search image).

False, childish, and rude . . . Trump.  We will suffer greatly from such a person as the head of our country.  Obama has not handled foreign or domestic policy at all well, but Trump would be the opposite.  He would cause problems just the same, only from a different direction.  As Ben Carson asked at the debate, where has the attitude come from in this country where everyone is at everyone else’s throats?  Why is there the rudeness, the wars, all against all?  Trump represents this awful attitude, and the people in the pit are cheering him on.

Continue reading Frustration Defined: Trump, Donald

Prof. Wm Lane Craig on Obergfell v. Hodges

family-iconPhilosophy professor William Lane Craig maintains a web site, Reasonable Faith, where he has apologetics articles and answers people’s questions.  He answered someone’s question about the recent gay marriage supreme court ruling, and I’ve reproduced much of it here.  See Craig’s site for the full response.


I’m going to use your question, R.C., [as] an excuse for addressing the Supreme Court’s tragic and misguided decision to re-define marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges.

We need to understand clearly that that is exactly what the Supreme Court has done. By ruling that same-sex unions can count as marriage the Court has implicitly redefined what marriage is. Marriage is no longer taken to be essentially heterosexual, as traditionally conceived, but has been implicitly redefined so that men can be married to men and women to women.

The Court’s majority opinion, written by Anthony Kennedy, shows a clear consciousness of what the Court is doing. Referring to the traditional view, Kennedy writes, “Marriage, in their view, is by its nature a gender-differentiated union of man and woman. This view long has been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world” (my emphasis). It is this view which Court’s majority declares is now obsolete.

Continue reading Prof. Wm Lane Craig on Obergfell v. Hodges