This picture was just to get your attention. I assume it worked…

Let’s see if we can have a civil discussion on this.

I have strong opinions on abortion, and not, perhaps, for the reasons you think.

For me, it’s a natalism and justice issue, not a conservative or liberal issue.

Truth is, the word abortion is not directly mentioned in the Bible. Even the concept is not there. So arguing on biblical grounds is possible, but challenging. You have to build implicit (not explicit) biblical arguments.

Being against abortion, as I am, is also counter-intuitive for me. As a Libertarian, I don’t like government interference in anything.

But Libertarianism can only exist given the total security of each person. Only when we decide not to bully or kill one another can a Libertarian society emerge. There needs to be a bedrock sense of civility and respect for it to work. In my mind, this must include the unborn.

Some random thoughts:

1) No one, in a free society, should be coerced into paying for something deeply against his or her conscience and morals. My tax money pays for abortions. This is not OK with me. It’s like forcing abolitionists to pay for slave shackles…

2) Insurance plans also pay for abortions–virtually all of them, because of the medical coding system which protects a woman’s privacy. Oversimplistically put, a miscarriage is coded the same as an abortion. Most all Americans, thus, fund abortions. That’s a problem.

3) I truly am striving to understand the pro-choice position. I would invite you pro-choicers to do the same with our views. Seriously. We are working with a woman who is seven months pregnant right now. She will give birth to a third child from a third “father.” He is a felon and intends to hurt her when he gets out this fall. No wonder she wants an abortion. She is a second generation welfare mom, with no stable families that I can find anywhere in her extended clan. I’m not excusing her thoughts; just trying to explain them. Many women seeking abortions see no way out, and their circumstances are hard for us in Middle America to understand.

4) The justice issue. We are to protect those who have no voice. That must include the unborn babies. Someone has to speak for them.

5) Finding families to adopt babies is not a problem. I and every pastor I know has a list of hundreds of couples starving to adopt a child. Most of them make six figures and are solid as the day is long.

6) Abortion is profitable. Profit skews the ethics of those providing abortions. Everyone they convince to abort adds to their profit. If I told you some things I know about these profits, you wouldn’t believe me.

Not just profitable. Predatory. Wanna find an abortion clinic? Go to the same poor neighborhoods that get targeted for lottery tickets and 40-oz malt liquors.

The once-vibrant African-American community here in L.A. is disappearing. At one time they even elected a black mayor, Tom Bradley. Now they are sidelined, swallowed up in a sea of Anglos, Asians, and Latinos. Remember, Planned Parenthood was started by a eugenics fan who doubted the viability of “inferior races.” Disgusting…

7) “What about rape?” is a copout. Does that automatically make it the baby’s fault? Instant death penalty? One of our worship leaders at Robinwood Church was conceived in rape. I cannot imagine a world without her. Using an extreme (but very real) example to push for abortion on demand in all cases is not helpful.

8.  Late term abortions are repulsive. No matter how you look at it. And yet they are legal. How does this happen in a democracy where an overwhelming majority of Americans find late term abortions an outrage?

9) I go to the Long Beach abortion clinic and stand on the sidewalk. Totally legal. Not protesting. Not hindering. I ask women approaching the building “If we gave you another option, would you take it?” About 1/3 say yes, immediately. We take care of them at http://hisnestingplace.org for months on end.

10) Are human beings an asset or a liability? If they are an asset, we need to keep them. If they are a liability….

11) I’m not a full-blown natalist, but I have some natalist tendencies. I believe in big families. I don’t believe in over-population. I fly all over America. Trust me, most of it is totally empty.

12) I don’t like the phrase “You can’t legislate morality.” Our entire legal system is legislated morality. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Etc. etc.

13) I don’t like the idea that we can’t use our faith in political arguments. Tell that to Martin Luther King. Tell that to those who ran the Underground Railroad. Tell that to the committed Christians who fought for the right for women to be able to vote. Tell that to our strident borderline-scary faith-filled women (and a few men) who founded our hospitals and universities (usually in a black and white picture, standing in mud with a shovel, next to the pictures of today’s board members in hospital hallways).

14) Feminism shows us some truth in this issue. It’s the woman who often suffers most from an unwanted pregnancy. Pro-lifers would do better to try to understand this and not just de-value this argument in favor of the baby. “You should have known better” is not a real helpful thing to say to a scared, pregnant woman.

15) Think how much a baby develops in his or her first year of life. The 9 months of pregnancy show even much more dramatic, miraculous development. Is it just me, or does stopping that seem deeply wrong at some level?

That should get us going.

Keep it civil, or I WILL delete you.

Let’s strive to understand each other.

I want to end abortion. Others disagree.

What do you think?

Perfect for relaxed Summer reading or for a group study in the Fall…..

I just crafted another 90-second movie trailer on iMovie. This particular movie version targets South Asia and the Middle East (but the book is for everyone). Have a look:

The novel, The Blackberry Bush, is ideal for small groups, classes (high school, college, and adult), and book clubs, because it has a built in study-guide in the back. Please consider ordering a stack for your next study.

How to get the book:

  • Order it on AMAZON
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  • Available on the shelves at WALMART (if it’s sold out, ask for a manager!)
  • For those of you in Minnesota, pick up a copy at HOSANNA! church in Lakeville.
  • For those of you in Kensington (London), pick up a copy at HTB.
  • For those of you in Muswell Hill (London), pick up a copy at ST JAMES CHURCH.
  • Coming soon to C.U.M. bookstores in South Africa
  • Coming soon to Koorong  in Australia
Read REVIEWS <<here

Here I stand, bare feet on ancient stone. Looking down at the water…

How did I get here?

It’s 3am in Tsfat, Israel. Dark outside. Full moon over the 4,000 year-old graveyard behind me…

I was on the way home to California from a business trip in London.

As if by an unseen hand, I was led out of my well-worn hotel room and down the switchbacks to this holiest of places in this holiest of cities. Yitzak Luria‘s Mikveh.

I feel like Indiana Jones, except there is no khaki or wide-brimmed hat…I am as naked as the day I was born, no barrier, coram Deo. Even my watch and wedding ring have been taken off.

Just me. Just God. Just now.

My name, David, which never made much sense to me, seems oddly right for, perhaps, the first time ever. I have cultivated nicknames all my life. I think of the double delta of David’s monogram…

I think back over the last 48 hours here in Galilee.

Invited into the back rooms of synagogues…

Rabbis pointing through the texts of “secret books” in Hebrew and asking questions….

  • How did you learn Hebrew?
  • Your name is David, are you sure you aren’t Jewish? You look Russian…
  • Where do you sense the presence of God here in Tsfat? Where is that feeling the strongest?
  • What are you doing here?

I did not choose to stand here. I’m not even sure what a mikveh is…I was led here…

I need answers to three questions. Just two days ago, I wrote those questions on a tiny slip of paper, rolled it up, and placed it in the Western Wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem at sunrise. My forehead against the cool ancient stone, my palms up high, time collapsed…the better part of an hour evaporated like the morning fog…

It is dark outside. Not even the roosters have begun to crow…

I slide into the biting cold of the fresh spring water, holding the pole and stepping down the ancient steps. I breathe deeply and submerge….

The world disappears.

I pull my knees up against my chest, going fetal in this womb-tomb.

An avid surfer, I am used to being underwater and I gently roll backwards….

A glow emanates from nowhere and everywhere. I open my eyes underwater to confirm the experience and the light vanishes…

I come up for air twice and submerge again. The glow returns, and I feel enveloped in the Khesed-love of the Creator. Answers come to me faster than I can receive them.

I generate a will to receive.

Something shifts around me. The third time under turns into a dream. I feel as if I am breathing underwater. The glow gets warm.

All of my theological legalisms about baptism vanish and dissolve into an ocean of God’s presence.

As I climb out and dry off, my soul comes to total rest. I will walk for hours until the hilltop town awakens. Like an old snakeskin, I have shed something. A new season is starting…

Where is your “mikveh” where you take off everything in the presence of God?

When’s the last time you were there….?

Come home, America.

Now would be the time.

Al Qaeda has been decapitated. The seven dwarves of wannabe Bin Ladens are hopeless.

The Cold War is over in Europe. As over as leisure suits.

We get most of our oil from the Western Hemisphere. No real reason to import it from the psycho-political Middle East.

Libya is not our problem. The chaos in Mexico is.

Time to come home, America.

We are a New World nation.

We started dabbling in Old World politics in McKinley’s administration with the “White Man’s Burden” and the Philippines. It was a slippery slope. 110 years of adventure with a ton of heartache.

Now is the time to realize the great promise of the New World.

The founding fathers warned us against “entangling alliances” in the Old World.

We ignored them.

And we have paid.

And paid.

And paid.

In gold and blood.

We had no business in World War One. None. No one is even sure what the war was about, almost a century later. Why send our young men into that meat grinder?

And had we never messed around in the Philippines and taken over Hawaii in a sleazy way there would have been no Pearl Harbor. Russia would have eventually defeated the Nazis without us (do the math). There may not have ever been Nazis in the first place if we had not tipped the scales of WW1 so that Germany was crushed.

It is time for America to come home.

If Europe cannot defend itself without our help, then that’s their problem. Why did they need us to straighten out Kosovo?

If Korea is hopeless without us, then Asia has to band together to subdue the nut case pariah nation of North Korea.

We are obsessed with the Middle East. As Dr. Phil would say: How’s it workin’ for you now? Israel is plenty able to kick the pooey out of anyone who messes with them. And last time someone fired scuds at them it was because our soldiers were shooting up Mesopotamia. We get the Israelis in more trouble than anything else.

These fights are not our fight.

Our natural GNP level is 20% of the global total (with 4% of the population), this has held steady for a century. We had a short percentage spike in the 1950’s while the rest of the world rebuilt after the disaster of WW2. It’s time to go back to our “natural” sphere of influence of 1/5 of the globe. Right now, we are acting like we own the whole enchilada. Imperial over-reach has killed more empires than anything else.

It is time to:

  1. Pull our troops out of Europe.
  2. Pull our troops out of Korea.
  3. Leave the Eastern Hemisphere, militarily. 100% withdrawal.
  4. Help Mexico fix Mexico.
  5. Establish a free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere, the New World.
  6. Stop worrying about trade with India and China. If they won’t play nice (which they will), then transfer those jobs to North and Latin America.
  7. We won’t even start with the schizophrenic nation of Pakistan, our worst ally…ever.
  8. Build a world-class freight railroad system from Alaska to the tip of Chile.
  9. Re-align the military to protect the Western Hemisphere. Seamlessly. With big oceans on both sides and no natural enemies, we are easy, and cheap, to defend.
  10. Develop a joint Western Hemisphere Navy (like NATO was) to which we would supply 3, not 12, carrier groups.
  11. Thus save trillions in military expenditures and foreign aid, all the while  enhancing our security. Oh, by the way, this would balance the budget.
  12. Be on good terms with the Old World, but stay out of their un-solvable feuds.
  13. Have every student in our hemisphere learn English and Spanish in addition to his/her native tongue. No exceptions.
  14. Create a national volunteer service throughout the hemisphere to build the infrastructure. Mandatory two years after high school. Get our young people out from in front of screens with video games and Simpsons reruns and out doing some good.
  15. Eliminate drug cartels.

To resurrect a term, it is our manifest destiny to be the leading nation (with great partners) in the New World.

Come home, America.

This vision made it into the epilogue of The Blackberry Bush, my 2011 novel.

Please pass a link to this article to everyone you know. Thanks.

PS: Just was reminded by a friend that McGovern’s acceptance speech in 1972 was entitled, “Come home, America.” 8-track, flashback! Here are the closing lines:

So join with me in this campaign. Lend me your strength and your support, and together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.

From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America

From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.

From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of  the neglected sick — come home, America.

Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.

Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this “is your land, this land is my land — from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters — this land was made for you and me.”

So let us close on this note: May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home.

And now is the time to meet that challenge.

Good night, and Godspeed to you all.

-George McGovern, 1972, who lost to Nixon, who resigned in disgrace shortly thereafter…

The final copies of my first novel just arrived!

Have a look at the 90-second intro-to-the-novel video movie:

Please pass it on to others, thanks!

The book comes with a built-in study guide for groups, book clubs, and classes.

For…

  • purchase information (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, etc)
  • reviews (via Powell’s in Portland)
  • interview
  • study guide
  • more videos
  • synopsis
….check out: NOVEL WEBSITE

Middle America celebrates spontaneously.

Much like the day we achieved victory over Japan, the revelers were overwhelmingly young.

I am struck by the negativity of the far right and the far left.

The far right:

This gang has a huge Obama allergy. Even if he does something the right wing would normally cheer, there must be something “wrong.”

This allergy clouds their thinking to the point where they parse out his speeches looking for proof of “narcissism,” and accuse him of timing the whole thing to coincide with re-election strategies.

They are even accusing him of lying about the timing of the attack, since they have proof that DNA takes longer to evaluate. Never mind all the Pakistanis in the Abbottobad neighborhood who were tweeting like crazy about helicopters overhead exactly when Obama said they were there.

Since he is a “bad man,” or so the thinking goes, everything he does, even if they agree with it, must be wrong. Thus, he deserves zero credit for leadership or calling the shot.

The far left:

This has always been the whinier voice in America. They are upset with the young celebrants in Times Square and outside the White House, because we should not be celebrating the death of any human being.

Much of this is tinged with Christian language implying we should love our enemies. This view clearly attempts to come across as more civilized than the U-S-A chanters. Martin Luther King is invoked (i.e. we should have used non-violence against Bin Laden).

I’m just glad MLK was not in Churchill’s chair during World War Two or all the European Jews would be dead and my wife and her Dutch family would be working the fields of ethnically cleansed Russia.

A sophisticated chronic embarrassment about all things American is the basic vibe underlying all far-left language.

Middle America:

Meanwhile, Middle America celebrates.

These are the people that provide the soldiers, pay the taxes, and head into the WTC fires with FDNY on their jackets.

These are the people with fragile small businesses which have been shaky in the economy which has been chronically unstable since 9-11.

These are the young people who have grown up for half of their lives with Osama bin Laden’s work forcing grandmas to take off their shoes before getting on planes and having to show up way before their flight, having their water bottles confiscated.

These are the honest people who have all of their banking tracked and their hard earned paychecks put on hold to “clear.”

America has had the jitters, economically and otherwise, since 9-11. The man who started it all has been brought to justice.

Let’s let the young people celebrate.

+++++++++++++

http://wp.me/pGQxY-fh  << Use this short link to pass this essay on to everyone.

My novel, The Blackberry Bush, debuts June 2011. Watch for it!

I find the whole birther thing fascinating.

Donald Trump is the latest in a long line of populists.

Sounds like a good thing, “people” and “popular” come to mind.

Populism, however, in America, is, as the picture above illustrates, an intellectual bad hair day.

Populism has tended, in our history, to have racist overtones. Demagogues would heat up the less educated chunk of the white majority, and prey on their fears. Xenophobia (fear of everything foreign) is the easiest fear to nail.

Barack Hussein Obama is the first US president to have a non-country-club name.

Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George Bush, Bill Clinton.

All WASP-y names that bear the homey scent of a Norman Rockwell painting, complete with the turkey dinner.

And now we get a half white-Kansas, half black-Kenyan in office with a Muslim-sounding name.

And his being a Columbia-Harvard type distances him even more from the Bubbas at Chatterbox Cafe diner.

For a lot of Americans, he doesn’t feel like “one of us.”

So we have to find something to prove that hunch. Birth certificates. Grades. LSAT scores. The birther thing is not going to go away; it will just move on to other suspicions. They are scouring the nation to find something, anything, to prove that their queasyness is legit.

I’m surprised it took someone so long (Trump) to cash in on it. A (very) white Presbyterian, plain-talking guy (with a few things of his own to hide).

If anything will win the election for the Democrats, it’s this. The populist/birther thing will energize the less educated part of the far right, but it will alienate the moderate middle.

And it’s the moderate middle that decides every election. The 49 to 51 percent voter in the dead center decides every election.

Truth is, though (and truth is always important), there are more white people in America than ever before. It’s just that we’ve been joined by a lot of Asians and Latinos. The African-American population is substantially lower (by percentage of the total population) than it was right before the civil war (then about 20% of Americans were black).

Why have we been joined by so many others?  Because we are an open society with great opportunity. By the end of this century, or certainly by the end of the next, we will most likely mirror the racial mix of the whole world:

43% Caucasian (including Latinos and those Caucasians from Northern India)

15% African

34% East (Chinese/Japanese) and SE Asian

11% Non-Caucasian Asian Indian

That’s because America SHOULD be an exceptional country where the best and brightest from everywhere want to come here.

You know, Statue of Liberty stuff.

We need to embrace an American exceptionalism, but not one based on being white, or being afraid of the world. One based on free enterprise, democracy, civil rights, hard work, and a continent-wide energy level unknown anywhere else on earth.

If you vote against Obama (as I did in the last election), do so because of his politics or track record, not because of his vague “foreign-ness.”

Time to put the birther thing to bed.

We are a great nation and we have work to do.

Please click on this LINK for the full article on Christian Post.

Christian Post is one of the top church blogs.

Please post your comments there!

Thanks.

This blog will be a rant-free zone.

I have just deleted a bunch of rants. Restate your argument without ad-hominem “splats” and insulting the intelligence of anyone (or me) on this blog, and I will print your comments.

This blog gets tons of traffic (way more than you think) because it is G-rated and cultivates a climate of respect.

We handle tough issues, agreeably.

Many of us disagree fervently on most of these issues.

I am a family-values libertarian, but some of our contributors (e.g. David Beriss) are progressive liberals. I value some of the liberals on this blog most of all and welcome their disagreement.

Please folks, no more equating anyone with Hitler. No more lampooning our president. No more conspiracy rants.

Intelligent discussion by people who are mindful of the value of others.

Help me to police this; I can’t always be online. Simply reply to a rant with “thats not how we act here, please tone it down.” I’ll delete it when I get there.

All opinions welcome.

But only if they are respectful.

If you are a conservative or a Christian (I am both), one of the boxes you seem to have to “tick” is “pro-Israel.”

This also seems to imply, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.

I am a great admirer of Israel. They have the best democracy and the most vital and diversified economy (from electronics to agriculture) in the Middle East.

The Israeli national anthem “Ha-Tikvah” stirs me emotionally.

The Hebrew Bible is one of my happy places. Our congregation, Robinwood Church, is preaching through the Psalms (have been at it for a year and a half).

One of my mentors, Prof. Dr. Ralph Gehrke, read Isaiah in Hebrew with me every Saturday for ages.

However, I find that some of the black-and-white pro-Israel sentiment in the circles in which I run is often un-reflected at best. Ignorant at worst.

Here are some random thoughts:

  • We don’t need to “defend Israel.” They have a formidable military and a credible nuclear deterrent. We have never fired a shot in defense of Israel and have never needed to intervene to help them. They buy our arms. Fine. So do many Arab states.
  • We need to focus less on the Eastern Hemisphere and more on the Western Hemisphere. We have a fixation on the Middle East. Because we import oil? Most of our imported oil comes from Canada, Mexico, and South America. We are only 4% of the world population, and the main reason for our budget deficit is our bloated “police the whole world” military. We got entangled in the Eastern Hemisphere during McKinley’s term (Philippines) and we have been messed up ever since, with very little to show for it. The Founding Fathers warned us against “entangling alliances” in the Old World. We have the resources to make the Western Hemisphere a democratic, prosperous heaven on earth.
  • Although there is much overlap, biblical Israel and modern Israel are not exactly the same thing. Modern Judaism was hatched after the New Testament was written, when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and they had to reinvent themselves. As did Christianity, Judaism had a Reformation in the 1500s (the hasidic/lurianic impulse) that still affects them to this day.
  • You can’t draw a straight ethnic line between ancient Israel and the modern state of Israel. Golda Meir was born in Milwaukee. Most of modern Israel has Rhineland into Eastern European (Ashkenazi) and Spanish/Portuguese (Sephardi) bloodlines. Middle Eastern DNA roots among them are sketchy at best. You can look up Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewish lineage on Wikipedia.
  • The main tribe (of the 12) remaining somewhat intact is the tribe of Judah. From which we get the word “Jew.” The “ten lost tribes” are, well…lost. The tribe of Judah was NOT given the entire holy land, only a county-sized area around Jerusalem. The tribe of Judah can lay no biblical claim to the northern West Bank (Samaria), the area around Tel Aviv, the areas of Galilee and the Golan Heights. God never, in the whole Old Testament, gave the entire land of Israel to the tribe of Judah. The other tribes are gone, as are their claims. It’s like Texans coming back after centuries and laying claim to the whole former USA territory. Not saying that Jews all over Israel (or anywhere in the world for that matter) don’t have a right to their homes, I’m just saying that their saying “the Bible says so” is overstated. There is another tribe, Levi, from which we get the Kohenim (priests), but they were, expressly according to the Bible, to be given no land. Just for the record, I believe Jews (and all of us) have a right to own land anywhere in the world, including the West Bank and Gaza, if they want to buy it. Being a libertarian, I believe in open borders.
  • There are lots of Palestinian Arab Christians. But conservative US Christians prefer non-Christian Israeli Jews over them anytime. They actually got angry when a Palestinian Christian got elected to be the head of the Lutheran World Federation. A pastor told me last week: “He’s probably really a Muslim.”
  • I often hear people say “God is pro-Israel so I am pro-Israel.” It’s simply not that simple. The Israelites were the “good guys” in the Bible, so anyone who uses the label Israel today must be the “good guy.” Often, but not always. Israel was very fallible in the Old Testament, and not always the object of admiration. You could bring that line or reasoning to its breaking point by being “Pro-Ahab” because he was the king of Israel. And using the label “Israel” today, which modern Israel has more of a right to do than anyone else, does not equate you with biblical Israel. The two nations (biblical and modern) are deeply related, but not identical.
  • The Bible is ambiguous as to whether Israel is a physical or a spiritual nation. Galatians 6:16 makes it clear that the two are not necessarily mirror images of each other (you can be one without being the other).
  • The Bible is also ambiguous as to whether or not the promise of the land (ha-aretz) is conditional upon Israel’s faithfulness, or permanent. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, only 57% of Israelis believe in a “higher power.” Israel is a much more secular nation than the United States.

Not asking anyone to be anti-Israel. The whole world should love and admire Israel. Modern Israel is an amazing nation. I tip my hat to them. I want to see them prevail. They have much to add to the world.

Just asking us to consider de-emphasizing our American fixation with the Eastern Hemisphere in general and the Middle East in particular. Had we stayed in the Western Hemisphere, our homeland, the New World; well then, Pearl Harbor and 9-11 would never have happened.

Also asking us to question the “straight line” thinking that equates ancient Israel with modern Israel. One was the mother nation of us all, at some level. The other is a different and amazing contemporary society. Sure, there are deep connections. But there are also some disconnects.

Your thoughts?

Please forward this to others…

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