Category Archives: Faith

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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Is Your Bible Missing Verses?

Hey hey.  Blessed Sunday everyone.  I know I haven’t posted in forever–I’ve been using my (limited) writing energy at my “work-related” site, phahpa.org (trying to catch up with regional and state history, preservation laws, doing projects, etc . . . ).  But I’ve been wanting to do this for a while.  That is, the graphic below . . . but as  I’m not graphics-program savvy, I did it in Word, printed it, then scanned it (not the highest quality I wished) in order to put it on here.   The quality actually came out pretty well, considering, and if you click on it you can view it in its large format.  I hope you like this and share it with those who might seem to need it (the title is sarcastic, yet)–even atheists who cherry pick or only actually read other atheists who cherry pick.   It’d just be nice if you cited the source and creator (this site).

Which Bible are You Reading?
By Vicki Priest

 

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)

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

Do Muslims Worship the same God as Christians?

Abraham and Isaac. Laurent de La Hire, 1650.
Abraham and Isaac. Laurent de La Hire, 1650.

That question, “Do Muslims worship the same God as Christians?” is not a new one, but has been in the Christian news (at least) recently over the controversial suspension of a black female professor at Wheaton College.  I haven’t written specifically on this topic, though I touched upon it in Does DA: Inquisition’s Imshael have anything to do with Ishmael and Islam?  In that article I point out how Islam rejects God’s plan for humanity, as provided by God in the Old Testament through Isaac, and openly celebrates this rejection through their holiday of Eid Al-Adha.  How can it be claimed that Muslims worship the same God when they reject biblical scriptures and even God’s plan for humanity?  As any bible student knows, God’s plan is interspersed throughout all of the Old and New Testaments, so to reject it and then claim you worship the same God makes no sense.  Yet the Wheaton professor, besides showing solidarity with the repression of women (which is not biblical), claims that Muslims worship the same God as Christians.

Continue reading Do Muslims Worship the same God as Christians?

Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 2 of 2)

Person of Interest, Ep 21, a demand
The Machine gives in to a demand made by its proxy. Similarly, God cares for each one of us and hears our fervent prayers. “Samaritan” only values its agents for what they can do for it and is only concerned with unquestioning humans (others are killed, not saved).

Part 1 of “Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4” covers some show background, a description of the series, and an overview of the God and Anti-God allegory found in this latest season (and developed in season 3).  Please see that part for those topics.  This part includes an answer to the questionable name given to the antagonist, “Samaritan.”  It also includes a section on the biblical verses related to the show’s allegory.

Why “Samaritan”?

It seems really odd that the metaphor for God is “The Machine” and the anti-God is “Samaritan.”  We normally think of “the machine,” when the expression is used, as something cold, mechanical, and all that is opposite of human concern and empathy; as such, the result of its machinations tend to be against our best interests.  I don’t fully know why the creator of this series chose name The Machine for this role, but there are two considerations I can immediately think of.  One, the AI’s creator, Finch, has doubts about his creation and chooses not to give it any other name.  Two, since the metaphor grows to allegory in seasons 3 and 4, perhaps the show’s creator and writers didn’t have the it all fully conceived earlier on.  The first two seasons were much more about solving crimes before they happened, and corruption in law enforcement and government, than about massive dueling AIs.

Continue reading Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 2 of 2)

Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 1 of 2)

Person of Interest, from opening

As usual–for anyone that reads my media reviews, that is–I’m writing about something that is not new.  We don’t have cable or satellite, but in the case of the show Person of Interest, we couldn’t even get the channel in on our TV that ran it (CBS).  So, I finally was able to watch the latest season, the 4th, on DVD (it’s now available on Netflix, too), and will share my “God is working in the world” observations with you.

After not expecting much, really, from a show in its 4th season (the writing tends to go south in aging shows), I was pleasantly surprised by this season’s quality and freshness.  That basic laud can be considered a recommendation, if you will, but I’m not here to write a review.[1]   I’m here to discuss the show’s underlying God/Anti-God story, which seems more obvious than ever this 4th season.  I’m just happy to see that there are still stories being presented in the US that don’t altogether ignore the Judeo-Christian God.  Of course, the concepts brought up in Person of Interest (PoL)may be too subtle or esoteric for most of the population to understand in any other sense than a generalized “good vs evil.”

Continue reading Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 1 of 2)

Christian Poems XIV: Kenyon, Spires, and Donne

Sunset with road.
Sunset, toward west, but road may traveled east or west. Which way to go? Source: http://newartcolorz.com/images/2014/3/country-sunset-wallpaper-5351-5667-hd-wallpapers.jpg

Let Evening Come

by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass.  Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sand den.
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come as it will, and don’t
be afraid.  God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

In The Best American Poetry 1991.  Mark Strand, editor; David Lehman, series editor (Collier Books 1991, p 119).  From Kenyon’s 1990 book of the same title (Graywolf Press 1990).

_________________

Continue reading Christian Poems XIV: Kenyon, Spires, and Donne

Michal the Maligned; King David’s First Wife

English: Michal lets David escape from the win...
English: Michal lets David escape from the window. A painting by Gustave Doré, 1865. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a feminist, but it doesn’t take a feminist to see the mysogeny in some Judeo-Christian circles when King David is so glorified while persons like Michal, David’s first wife, are vilified.  If Michal can be so maligned, then any woman can.  David treated Michal (and his other wives) like his property in more ways than one, and many “believing” men still see David’s actions in a righteous light.

King David, Israel’s most revered king [1], who was chosen by God for that role and for his part in God’s redeeming plan, was a poet and a bit of a prophet, but he did things that God did not approve of and which are utterly un-Christlike/un-Christianlike [2] (read about Judah and others that God used and you’ll see that He didn’t forcefully make them “saints”).  As always, we should recognize and praise the good, but we need to also recognize the bad and not repeat it.  We are also called to recognize and help the oppressed.

Background

What got “me going” on this subject at this time was a biography of David.   In the introduction the author claimed that the only thing David did wrong was have Uriah the Hittite murdered because he wanted the man’s wife (Bathsheba).  Though the author didn’t provide the reference for his claim, it comes from 1 Kings 15:5:  For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.  Since there are other things written in the Old Testament that David did that displeased God, this statement can be taken as a generalized commendation, just as other kings received generalized condemnations; and “in the case of Uriah the Hittite” David committed many deep sins, not just one.  (Note, however, that this particular verse seems to have been added to scripture later since it is not in the oldest versions of the Greek Old Testament).

Continue reading Michal the Maligned; King David’s First Wife

Who Will Enter God’s Kingdom?

bad trees don't produce good fruit
Bad fruit — it can look good on the outside while it’s rotting on the inside. With God’s help in discernment, we should be able to recognize bad fruit. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Jesus, in Matthew 7:18).

I was reading Matthew today and came across the below group of verses.  It made me think about my own salvation and if I’m on the right track.  I have these times where I wonder if God expects more of me, if I’m letting Him down, and if He’s really paying attention to me anymore.  I think all believers go through times with thoughts like that.  I do believe I’m saved, as Paul wrote: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).   But I also think Paul wrote his passages about persevering  for a reason, that people can indeed fall away from the faith (become apostate).  One example from Hebrews (12:1-3):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The following passages from the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, consisting of three paragraphs and concepts, is a good reminder to consider:  where we’re at in our faith; if our faith is matched by our actions; and, if our righteous-looking actions are hiding unrighteous motives.  It is that last bit that is the scariest.  Those persons who do NOT enter God’s Kingdom, even though they seemed like they were powerfully working for God, seem to be surprised.  Perhaps it is yet just another deception they are trying to pull off, or, they are so deluded they can’t even tell the difference.

Continue reading Who Will Enter God’s Kingdom?