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66 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    I’m concerned for the Kurds whom we have depended on and seem to be abandoning. We don’t overtly persecute groups we just seem to break our agreements leaving them to suffer. I hope I am wrong.

  2. Michael says:

    BD,

    The Christians in the region as well…I wish I knew enough about all this to have something more than another opinion.
    I don’t…and becoming informed without bias is nearly impossible.

  3. Michael says:

    Peter-John Courson, the son of Jon Courson and a frequent commenter here for many years is now on hospice here in Southern Oregon.

    We pray for him and his family, including a wife and four children.

  4. dusty says:

    joining you in prayer, Michael. Lord have mercy.

  5. Em says:

    Pray that we leave the Kurds with a support group that is sufficient to keep them from destruction … strange hatreds and deep seated evils in that part of the world

    Praying God’s strength and comfort blesses the Courson family

    A change of tack … I find it sobering to view the alignments and looming changes in dominance on the world scene as they do seem to be closer than ever to prophesy…
    But God can and does rewind the clock, so…. ? dunno

  6. Michael says:

    Life has an apocalyptic feel about it these days though I have no idea what prophetic import it all has.
    I usually have angst during this season and the losses for the year have amplified that.
    Sometimes you have to focus on what remains…

  7. Jean says:

    You Are an Heir of God Through Christ
    By Martin Luther

    “Further, this surpasses all human understanding, that He should call us heirs, not from some wealthy or powerful prince, nor from the emperor or from the world, but from the Almighty God, Creator of All things. Thus this is the worth of our inheritance! There are no words to describe it, as Paul says somewhere else (2 Cor. 9:15), for when a person begins to understand the great excellence of this doctrine, that is when he becomes a son and heir of God. All who believe this with constant faith would consider all the power and wealth of the world as filthy dung when compared with this eternal inheritance. They would abhor whatever the world considers worthy of the highest praise and of the greatest glory. Yes, the greater the pomp and glory of the world, the more he would despise it….

    However, the law of the members, in combat against the law of the mind, blocks faith in us and does not allow it to attain perfection. Therefore, we need the aid and comfort of the Holy Spirit, which in our trials and afflictions will intercede for us with inexpressible groans, as I’ve said before. Sin remains in the flesh. Sometimes it oppresses the conscience and gets in the way of faith so that we cannot look upon, wish for, and enjoy with perfect joy those eternal riches that God has given us through Jesus Christ. Paul, himself, aware of his own struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, exclaims, ‘Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ He accuses his own body, which nonetheless is required to love and gives it a dreadful name, his death. It’s as if he said, ‘My body afflicts me to no end; it ambushes me more than death itself.’ It blocked that joy in the Spirit in him. He did not always feel that sweet joy at the thought of the coming heavenly inheritance. Instead, he often felt great depression of sprit, anguish, and terror on all sides.”

    Martin Luther’s Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (1535), transl. by Haroldo Camacho (2018), Gal. 4:7, pp.343-44.

  8. Nathan Priddis says:

    Sorry to hear of Mr. Courson.

  9. Nathan Priddis says:

    The change of direction (purposefully did not call it a strategy) regarding the Kurds, is odd.
    I think there is a back-story, and likely Court Evangelical related.

  10. Jean says:

    I hope the US government will agree to resettle vulnerable Syrian allies in the US. If they were willing to fight alongside us against our enemies, then we should commit to their safety. This is not only the right thing to do, but would be remembered in the future by the next group of people who we ask to fight with us. I believe there is some precedence for this from our involvement in Vietnam.

  11. Nathan Priddis says:

    @Jean
    That will not happen.
    -Our Middle Eastern allies are 100% of Middle Eastern descent.
    – Certain Southeast Asian refugees are being reviewed for deportation. This includes allied combatants from the war. This is a December 2018 policy change.

  12. Anne says:

    Sorry to hear about our dear Peter- John. I love him dearly.

  13. Em says:

    My understanding is that there are over 40 million Kurds whose homeland spills into Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria and they are hated by all four of those governments… Differing versions of bloody Islam? How could we bring that many people into this ciuntry?
    My grandson summed up our immigration problem in one word. He observed that it is demographics that determine the direction of a democratic republic. With a fractured demographic, can we have and orderly, functional representative government? Not sure….

  14. Michael says:

    Anne,

    I wasn’t sure if I should say anything as he and I had an adversarial relationship, but I thought he might have friends here.
    I’m sorry for your grief for your friend…as I said, I’m sure there are others here as well.

  15. Michael says:

    Em,

    The problem with that is that demographics are changing and homogeneity is no longer possible short of draconian measures.
    many of the people who believe in that scenario are in favor of draconian measures, unfortunately…

  16. Peter-John Courson says:

    I truly appreciate each prayer. Thank you. Having previously survived an emergency brain operation three years ago, and two years back, another operation placing my stomach back where it belongs, I surely testify of God’s healing power.

    I’m not in hospice and pray I might soon be up and about. Either way, my time here is limited. Like yours, my life has been anything a stroll through the park. Yet, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Where else can I go?

  17. Michael says:

    Pete,

    I’m glad you’re feeling up to commenting and I’m sure you’ll be covered in many prayers for your healing, here and elsewhere.

  18. Em says:

    Michael @ 6:15…. You are probably correct about the change… I doubt that those who would resist with draconian resistance have enough power or influence to do more than beat at the inevitable… BUT
    What cones next? A form of socialism? What form?

  19. Peter-John Courson says:

    Thanks, Michael.

    I ought to correct: I’m not in a hospice but I am under hospice care.

    I’m being confusing to the very end! Lol

  20. London says:

    PJ, bet ya never thought I’d say this, but it’s good to see you posting here ?

  21. Babylon's Dread says:

    Peter-John your witness to the love of Christ right to this moment is a great help to us all. I am praying for you and your dear family – asking not only that the grace of God would sustain you all but that he might yet stretch forth hand as indeed he has poured forth his love upon you all.

  22. Babylon's Dread says:

    PJ

    Babylon’s Dread aka – Alan Hawkins from Albuquerque NM I followed you on FB until my departure from that platform and today when I was thinking about you it grieved me that I might not be able to follow your journey so I am grateful to Michael and you for the updates here.

  23. ( |o )====::: says:

    CostcoCal, my friend from afar. So good to see you here!
    Thanks again for the grace you extended me when I was full of questions and wrestling with my faith.

    May your every day be full, rich and beautiful with your family and friends.

  24. Anne says:

    Michael , I grew to love so many here over the years! Some with whom I’ve seen eye to eye with on very little. Others whose love & graciousness dim anything we might ever disagree over.

  25. Anne says:

    Good to see you here, PJ! The only time I ever saw you in person you were a wee boy tagging behind your pop. May the days ahead be filled with peace, comfort & moments of joy in whatever they hold for you and your family!

  26. Michael says:

    “What comes next? A form of socialism? What form?’

    The fact that we can no longer count on ethnic homogeneity does not necessarily mean that we have to change the form of government or that the current form is doomed.

    Whether the more liberal among us like it or not, we do have to have a measure, a foundation, of cultural homogeneity, however.

    The Constitution can provide that if we also make an expectation of assimilation to it.

    We already have some hybrid form of socialism and it seems to be working well for all but idealogical purists.

    I’m far more concerned with our bent toward authoritarianism.

  27. Michael says:

    Every once in a while I stumble upon a book that I wish that everyone would read.

    I’ve done so again…it’s called “The Death of Expertise” by Tom Nichols…and it’s solid gold.

    If I were king, nobody would be allowed to comment on social media until they had read and passed a test on it…

    “Technology and increasing levels of education have exposed people to more information than ever before. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything: with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.

    Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise shows how this rejection of experts has occurred: the openness of the internet, the emergence of a customer satisfaction model in higher education, and the transformation of the news industry into a 24-hour entertainment machine, among other reasons. Paradoxically, the increasingly democratic dissemination of information, rather than producing an educated public, has instead created an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement. When ordinary citizens believe that no one knows more than anyone else, democratic institutions themselves are in danger of falling either to populism or to technocracy or, in the worst case, a combination of both. An update to the 2017breakout hit, the paperback edition of The Death of Expertise provides a new foreword to cover the alarming exacerbation of these trends in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election. Judging from events on the ground since it first published, The Death of Expertise issues a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age that is even more important today.”

  28. Michael says:

    Guess I have to get this out…

    I hope I live long enough to see the wall built…then long enough to mock those who built it upon the discovery that it didn’t make a damn bit of difference.

    The vast majority of drugs, migrants,… whatever you want the wall to keep out…comes through the ports of entry, not skulking through the desert.

    The wall is a powerful symbol, not a deterrent.
    What it is a symbol of is what we need to discuss…

  29. Em says:

    God grant us the wisdom to discern between truth and lie, between true experts and cunning posers and blowhards. Listen to the quiet ones, the God fearing and those who’ve paid their dues. They are not always in the formerly hallowed halls of academia…. some are, but some are not what they claim to be… God grant us quieted minds and widom
    We truly are in a transition, questioning, doubting “the faith of our fathers… “

  30. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I read the book when it came out, but not the new Foreword to the paperback edition. I’ve held my PhD for 30 years, along with three Master’s level qualifications and three undergraduate degrees. It involved discipline, research, languages, time and money. Once, they meant something. I’m afraid in most forums, that is no longer the case. An off-hand reference, researched or not, holds equal weight to what I might say or write, even in my field(s) of speciality. Worse, even the off-hand reference holds equal weight to the work of scholars with a lifetime of work in their fields. If I need info on a Greek idiom, I turn to Moule – not Wikipedia. If I want to check an archeological reference, I message my old friend Dennis Groh… I could go on… It seems that we have come to a point at which whoever speaks the loudest with the greatest certainty expects to be believed, regardless of evidence to the contrary. The lesson seems to be (and I am speaking of the Church and the academy here, not politics) that if you’re loud and absolutely certain you will attract a small subset who will, by accepting what you say, thereby justify what is being said.

    Thirty years ago, the spending of a life in research was honored. Today, it is made light of or reviled. I have watched the change…

  31. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Well said.
    This attitude is infecting all discourse in every field and the result is that while our narcissism is gratified, our ignorance is compounded…

  32. Em says:

    What i hope to live long enough to be proven wrong… ?
    We seem to be headed back into a 2 class society, the all powerful elites, their puppets and a powerless majority, the serfs (me and mine)…. i wonder how many are aware of the number of homeless (not all druggies and mental cases, not by a long shot), the working poor without health insurance and thus medical care (Obamacare missed them), the takeover of our farms by corporations and foreign interests…
    Pray for a good outcome when the dust settles because we are in transition … ?

  33. Michael says:

    Em,

    The issue that I brought up (and that Duane addressed so well) insures that we will not have good outcomes outside some miracle of God…we will be condemned by our own hubris…

  34. The news about PJC, aka Costco C and few other aliases goes to the bone. Prayers are being offered up. Words seem so empty.

  35. Michael says:

    PH,

    It is hard stuff…

  36. Em says:

    Dr. Duane, academic degrees of just a few years ago carried weight, true bona fides. Today our hallowed halls are corrupted, making it difficult for a lay person to discern whose words really carry weight and should be respected…
    The point that the internet gives everyone access to information which may or may not be trustworthy is well taken also
    I repeat mysekf, but we are in transition into an unknown land… or so it seems to me…. Sigh

  37. Em says:

    Michael @ 11:09. .. Agree

    (62 years ago today, i was getting married – the changes in every aspect of life since then are not what we expected or could have imagined)

  38. London says:

    This year we have been blessed with being able to work with the police department, and old retired social worker and a chain restaurant to help a family in crisis.
    It always amazes me how apparently random connections made through social media work for the good of others.
    It can be toxic, but, it can also be amazing!

  39. Michael says:

    London,

    Well done!
    Hopefully we can create non toxic spaces for all of us to work in…

  40. Jean says:

    In general, Americans have more power over their government than ever before. Except for efforts to suppress the poor and minority vote in some “red” states and the use of gerrymandering (both of which are vile), more Americans than ever can vote today and at a younger age than was previously possible. And many states have made voting easier than ever before with mail in ballots and early voting.

    The issue I see is that many voters either do not vote, or vote against their own economic interests, because either they don’t believe their vote will make a difference, they are lazy, or they are seduced by lies or fantasies peddled by politicians and their supporters.

    A good example is the government shut down over building a wall on the Southern border. If you recall during the 2016 Presidential race, the electorate was promised that Mexico was going to pay for the wall. The wall was typical dog whistle politics, but now we have a partial government shutdown over a campaign promise that was sold using a lie.

    We had a good (not perfect) healthcare law that for the first time in decades put high quality health insurance within reach for millions of Americans through expanded Medicaid and subsidized private insurance. Instead of fixing problems in the law, the current administration and congress has damaged the law, and endeavors through all means possible to kill it all together. We were promised “repeal and replace” with “great” health insurance, but what have you seen proposed that is better than the Affordable Care Act? The state of health care in this nation today which is headed back (in in real danger reversal) in the wrong direction is due to the votes freely exercised by people who believed the lies.

    Our country was built by immigrants. Major infrastructure, manufacturing and services, the hospitality industry, food processing, restaurants, and agriculture have a longstanding tradition in this country of being staffed and performed by immigrants. Not the academic elite, but low skilled, hard working immigrants. I see them almost every day contributing to this nation, working hard, making a living and supporting a family.

    No one remembers or appreciates our history. And we still need those immigrants in those fields here today. We are not full of immigrants; we need more of those hard workers here in this country in many fields today, especially in light of our aging population and the need to have more working age people paying into Social Security and Medicare to help keep those programs going. Yet the voters have bought the lie that immigrants are a problem not part of what has and will maintain American prosperity. Let me be plain, low skilled immigrants are competing for jobs that as a general rule are not sought after by middle class white kids. The vast majority of them wouldn’t last two weeks working in a meat pack, line cooking or washing dishes at a diner, roofing houses in 95 degree weather, landscaping homes, etc.

    The voters have the power, but many are either apathetic or are voting against their own economic interests and the future for themselves and their children.

  41. London says:

    Thanks but I didn’t do anything except pass messages back and forth between parties.
    The real key person is a young police officer I met on Twitter years ago through a random post he made looking for recommendations on screen printing.

    My point is, Twitter remains toxic, but what comes out of those interactions doesn’t have to be.

  42. Em says:

    Jean, you sound like you’ve spent too much time in the suburban bubble. ☺
    I won’t waste precious PhxP space here refuting your 12:07 post, but all your statements can be argued against… Perhaps you see the fresh coat of paint on the house and not the termites…. ?
    …. As do most who use your data points

  43. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I agree…

  44. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    In general I agree with you. Some people simply choose to believe lies because they prefer the lies to the truth…

  45. Jean says:

    I live in rural fly over country. We don’t have urbs, much less suburbs. So, count me with the termites.

  46. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “Some people simply choose to believe lies because they prefer the lies to the truth…”

    I’m grateful for places, like here, where the truth is still permitted.

  47. Michael says:

    I have to preach in 2 1/2 hours…and my mind is scattered with my notes.
    Maybe we’ll just have the Eucharist and call it good…

  48. Jean says:

    In some liturgies that would include the agnus dei, the Lord’s Prayer, confession and absolution, pax domini, the words of institution, eating and drinking, and the nunc dimittis, a collect and benediction. It’s still all there.

  49. Nathan Priddis says:

    The Christian Post is reporting the Family Research Council is speaking out against the Syrian withdrawal. I’m curious how far and loud they will push this.
    2018 is staying weird right to the last day.

    Evangelicals need to remember, the hand that gives is the hand above. Countering the President can get him angry.

    The American Evangelical church is now a unity front incorporated into the Trump party. When you’re in a marriage, you can’t pick and choose what part of the marriage you support. You struck a deal, and you abide by the deal. Trump is the new Cyrus, and Court Evangelicals need to stick with their man.

  50. Em says:

    I have heard my mother’s family recall the great depression when all they had to eat was cornmeal mush and they worked thru it – hard…
    It wasn’t until the 1960-1970s that our children weren’t taught history or respect for the underpinnings of this Republic… I am a firm believer in building on a solid foundation. I’m pretty smart about the above mentioned illusions and preference for lies. I spent my adult life with a man whose bread and butter was truth and logic – he was, as were other family members, plugged in to reality – no lala land in his home…
    We are a nation of flawed humans, yes and it was good to shine the spotlight on a few egregious flaws, the large pockets of racial prejudice being one of them. But perfection will always elude us and, it seems we like our prejudices, finding new, mindless generalities to attack. We seem to live today in a world of illusion … good and bad illusion, but still not reality. Perhaps we always have… and will
    The heart is deceitful above all things – desperately wicked – who can know it? God give us discernment, wisdom …. wrap it in grace and humility
    Now i’m done… ?

  51. Pete’s dad share an update on PJ…both physical and spiritual. A good Word on the best life that lies ahead. I appreciated the exhortation.

  52. Jim says:

    “We already have some hybrid form of socialism and it seems to be working well for all but idealogical purists.

    I’m far more concerned with our bent toward authoritarianism.”

    1. What? Economics is not ideology. A guaranteed insolvent SS system (according to the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration) is working well? Our federal govt is $21,863,635,176,724.12 in debt. That’s working well? Numbers do not have feelings or opinions. The only ideology that matters is our politicians desire to hold power, and therefore ignore the consequences of their lavish misuse of other people’s money.

    2. Socialism is always authoritarian.

    3. Who are the idealogical purists? Who even talks about this stuff anymore?

  53. Michael says:

    Jim,

    First, let me confess that I’m sure that I haven’t begun to explore the depths of my own ignorance on this topic.
    Pragmatically, I don’t see a ‘pure” economic system ever being imposed as the carnage from the change would be great.
    Fundamentally, I have no problem with a measured sharing of resources for the benefit of society…I suppose the argument among many would be how we define “measured’…

  54. Jim says:

    Michael,

    Ideology aside, can we define measured as affordable and sustainable?

    The “unmeasured” road to a social democracy will continue unhindered, as will increased authoritarianism. My four grandchildren and their peers will suffer the consequences.

  55. Michael says:

    Jim,

    “Ideology aside, can we define measured as affordable and sustainable?”
    At some point we’ll have to…

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    Jim

    I’m reminded of Hayek – “Although our modern socialists’ promise of greater freedom is genuine and sincere, in recent years observer after observer has been impressed by the unforeseen consequences of socialism, the extraordinary similarity in many respects of the conditions under ‘communism’ and ‘fascism’.”

    The problem is that no one seems to have come up with how much control of economics might be good (restriction of monopolies, etc.) and how much control is bad (high taxation, etc.). I know that when I lived in the UK my effective tax rate was up about 72%… painful and I’m not sure I saw the benefit to society as a whole…

  57. Em says:

    Socialism? I am far from convinced that a secular government can manage my money, my charity and my life better than i can… That said, until the grand experiment begun in 1787, some form of elitist rule was always the norm … and so it appears it will return… Until the King of kings rules, that is …

  58. Jean says:

    I don’t think one can properly debate the morality of wealth re-distribution without also debating the morality of wealth concentration. One of the remarkable components of the OT Law, were the restrictions on the alienability of real property. I think that innovation in social policy was a really wise legal frame work for dispersing wealth and denying predatory wealth concentration.

    Even if it has not reached a lot of working class Americans’ notice or understanding yet, I believe a lot of the anxiety, stress and frustration that working people are experiencing in this country stems in great part from the very real power (even if cloaked behind super packs, Madison street advertising, etc.) of highly concentrated wealth in the form of corporations (public and private) and other interest groups, which (1) exert tremendous power over federal and state legislatures, (2) do not have the public interest at heart, and (3) with one decision made in a boardroom thousands of miles away can destroy the livelihood of an entire community when a factory is closed (or downsized) and jobs are eliminated.

    People ask: I did everything I was supposed to do; how did this happen? Or, I spent my best years for my employer, and now I feel like it stabbed me in the back. Are they always wrong? They look at the bank and corporate bailouts of the last financial crisis. Have we fixed “to big to fail?” Arguably our banks are more concentrated than ever before.

    Thus many people feel, and rightly so, powerless in their very own country. One community has great schools; another 20 miles away has terrible schools. One city get’s an Amazon, Google or Apple HQ with thousands of high paying jobs feeding a sales tax base to invest in infrastructure, while across state lines people can’t even rely on dependable clean water from their utility, much less find a job paying a living wage.

    But instead of an honest debate, our politicians have turned the debate tribal and nationalistic and authoritarian, as though those types of policies and positions will solve the problems we are facing. Instead of working on how to compete globally, we are trying to fence out the rest of the world (literally as well as metaphorically). Does anyone think that will actually work to improve American prosperity?

    IMO we can afford national healthcare and social security. Furthermore, IMO they are both imperatives for a just, healthy and prosperous nation. The issue is whether our national priorities are in the right place.

  59. Em says:

    Somehow, reading Jean’s 12:31, i feel what he elaborates (might need more detail) makes my point @ 11:58…
    O.T. guidelines, however, were given by God to instruct a tribe that recognized His authority with some clarity… the intellectual elites of today do not do that…
    A two kingdom thing? ?

  60. Jean says:

    In my tradition, we don’t read the OT out of historical curiosity.

  61. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    “In my tradition, we don’t read the OT out of historical curiosity.”

    Simply uncalled for… I’ll say no more although I could.

  62. Linnea says:

    Praying for Peter-John Courson, and his family…

  63. Linnea says:

    Just read the thread and see that CostcoCal commented. Love to you and your family CC!

  64. dusty says:

    Hi Anne, so good to see you! (((((hugs))))

  65. dusty says:

    hi Linnea, hope you are well. love ya

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