We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

INTERVIEW: Salim Muyaner - A Palestinian Christian Seeks Reconciliation

In the documentary, “With God On Our Side”, there is a scene which impacted me on a very emotional level. Palestinian Christian Pastor, Salim Muyaner, was talking about his visit to a Christian church in Houston, Texas. After he spoke to the congregation several people came up to him to shake his hand. One man said to him, “I love the Jewish people! I’ve always wanted to meet a real Jew from Israel.” Salim shook the man’s hand and said, “I too love the Jewish people, but I am not a Jew, I am a Palestinian.” At those words the man yanked his hand away from Salim and without saying another word turned and walked away, leaving Salim awe struck and speechless.

This foolish response illustrates perfectly how many Christians in America are programmed to respond to the words, “Palestinian” and “Israel”.  If we can treat another brother in Christ like this, based solely on our political ideologies, then we have a very serious problem.

Like many Christians in Palestine, Salim Muyaner can trace his family lineage all the way back to the indigenous community of Christians that developed after Pentecost. Some are Jewish, some are Arabic, some are Greek, and some of them are Palestinian, but together, they are all followers of Jesus.

“Many of us are Greek Orthodox, or Byzantium Christians,” says Salim. “In recent years there has been a movement, led by both indigenous Christians in Palestine, and also the ‘Jews to Jesus’ Christians in the States, to share Christ. So there are an increasing number of people in Palestine who would label themselves as Christians, or as Messianic Jews. Approximately 8,000 from Jewish descent in recent years, have come to Christ.  Among the Palestinian Muslims right now, around 200 people have recently come to Christ in Israel and Palestine. In Galilee it’s around 100 people. There is a growing movement of Palestinian Muslims who are coming to Christ,” he says.

In fact, all over the Middle East there are a large number of people who are coming to put their faith in Christ. “Mostly in Iran,” Salim says. “About half a million, to a million – the number is disputed – but this is largely a reaction to the Islamic regime of Iran. Also in Algeria there is a big movement to the Lord. And also bigger one in Egypt, which is in reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood there.”

While these Muslims are open to embracing Jesus, not many of them are as open to the baggage that sometimes comes along with the Gospel. “We call it MBB, or Muslim Believers Background,” he says. “The American evangelical church has embraced a lot of American culture values. Because of this, many Christians (in America) are very Republican, Conservative, etc. In the last 20 years, American Christians have really hindered the Gospel. Especially some prominent evangelical leaders who have a very militant expression about Palestinian people.”

For many of these Muslims, this politicization of Christianity has driven them to avoid the name “Christian”, preferring instead to say that they are Muslims who follow Jesus, or “Isa”.

This same politicization of Christianity is where Salim’s negative experience in Houston finds its roots. Because American Christians are largely influenced more by their politics than by their Bibles, they can justify treating a fellow Christian like an outsider simply because they are Palestinian (and therefore an enemy of the Jews who are assumed to be “God’s chosen people.”)

“There is a kind of fear to criticize and challenge that premise in the media,” notes Salim. “The documentary (“With God On Our Side”) came about to alert Christians, but as you know there was a big backlash to this in certain Christian circles.”

This backlash is fueled by a dominant theology known as “Dispensationalism” which is the most commonly taught doctrine in America today. This doctrine (which only surfaced in the 1800’s under the teaching of a man named John Nelson Darby) suggests that Israel (the Jews) are separate from the Church in God’s eyes. This new teaching – which no Christian prior to the 1800’s ever believed – gave rise to Christian Zionism and propagated the idea that the Jews must rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem in order to fulfill prophecies in the New Testament.

The real problem with this theology is that it therefore pits American Christians against Palestinian Christians, which in itself should be enough for us to see how flawed it really is. At worse, following Dispensationalism to its logical conclusions involves cheering on the systematic oppression of an entire nation of people (the Palestinians) so that the Jewish Nation can dominate the land and Jesus can return to earth.

““The problem with Dispensationalism is more political than theological. It’s largely popularized by the likes of Hal Lindsay, Moody Bible College, Dallas Theological Seminary, Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” Series, and the Scofield Bible where we see an end times theology that is all about the world coming to an end. As a result, many Palestinian Christians feel they have no voice in American Evangelical Churches,” says Salim. “As you read (in a recent Charisma magazine report), different Christian groups in America have raised up to $210 million dollars to help fund secular Jewish activities that oppress Christians and Muslims in Palestine. Who are these Christians? People like John Hagee, and the Fellowship of Jews and Christians.”


Another blind spot for American Christians is that there is a genuine Palestinian Christian church in the land of Israel today, and they desperately need our support. “We are actively seeking reconciliation and actively evangelizing,” he says. “We want to be a source of blessing to our neighbors. We are seeking a ministry of reconciliation.” To that end, Salim started a ministry known as Musalaha which works towards reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians based on the Biblical principles of peace, justice, and love. The name Musalaha comes from the Arabic word for 'reconciliation'. The mission statement from their official website states:

 "Musalaha is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians as demonstrated in the life and teaching of Jesus. We seek to be an encouragement and facilitator of reconciliation, first among Palestinian Christians and Messianic Israelis, and then beyond to our respective communities."

Salim started Musalaha in the ‘90’s after the first Intifada against Israeli army caused a split in the believing community in Palestine. “My faith is built on the cross of Jesus and how we are called to love each other,” he says. “We cannot deny the centrality of unity in the Body. Jesus prayed that we would be one. How can you say that you love God who you don’t see, but you hate your brother and sister that you do see? In this divided land the Church of Jesus is here and is called to be peacemakers and to love our enemy. As believers in the Messiah we are called to bring people together - Jews and Palestinians together who follow Jesus, and then Muslims and Jews.”

As passionate as he is about this calling, Salim knows that the task ahead of them is much greater than they can imagine. “The gap is huge,” he admits. “How do you bring people out of hatred and mistrust? Our future depends on our relationship to our neighbors. We cannot do this. We cannot, but Jesus can. We also cannot outsource our responsibility. The body needs to embrace its calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”


One of the major reasons for the success of Musalaha is that they have brought together Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims to something called ‘The Desert Forum’. “These are opportunities for people who come from different backgrounds and faiths to neutralize the hatred and to bring people to look into each other’s eyes and see they are all created in God’s image,” he says.

These Desert Forums have allowed people from different faiths to see one another as people made in the image of God, and to develop empathy for one another as members of the human race. What’s more, whether they are Jewish or Palestinian, Christian or Muslim or Jew, they all share a feeling of being oppressed and in danger. By sharing these experiences with one another they are empowered to help one another.

“As you know, Jesus from the cross reconciled, not just individuals, but also the Greek, the Roman, the Jew, the Barbarian. Paul, in Ephesians speaks very clearly about ethnic hostility and how Jesus heals all of this from the cross,” he says. “As much as radical Islam has divided the Muslim world, it has also split the Christian world in how it reacts. We have churches, mainly evangelical, with a theology about the Jews in the end times that develops a bipolar view which sees only Jews and Christians versus everyone else who is on the side of Satan. If you try to pray for Palestinian Christians (in many churches) you will meet a challenge,” he says.


The average person is not aware of American Foreign policy in the Middle East and how it hurts people. “People (in the States) need to know that when you have negative Christian words spoken in America they are immediately spread across the Middle East. It’s not a healthy situation. As a result you find that many Middle Eastern people in general like American people for their generosity for their hospitality, but as they perceive Americans supporting Israel (which oppresses them) they are confused.”

One problem with this brand of end times biblical theology is that it breeds fear and paralyzes Christians from doing anything for their brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to live in the wrong part of the world. “The worst aspect of this is when we divorce people and nations from ethical responsibility. Many evangelical churches are not relevant in society and many young people are upset about that. We are the people of Wilbeforce,” says Salim, “but now we have withdrawn from society. We’ve lost our ability to become salt and light. People are surprised now that the church has no influence on society anymore. Ask ourselves why are there poor people? What about our system? Why isn’t the Church leading the way to solve these problems?”
The other challenge to American Christianity today is that being a Christian is much more about what you believe and not who you are. “The church lost its prophetic voice. In the bible you have the priest, the king and the prophet. Once the church lost influence in society but continued to grow in size and amass wealth, we began to fall into the seductiveness of political leaders and now they think that they will win influence. But politicians want our money but not our ethical influence,” he says. “Prophets need to speak to power but power corrupts. We’ve been mesmerized by power like someone blinded by strong light. That process creates confusion.”

As the Christian church aligns itself more with political powers, the mission becomes blurred. “We have become like the radical Muslims and the Rabbinical Jews who want to put laws in place to force people to behave in certain ways, but this is not from the heart. American society is now quite a bit divided. God is giving an opportunity to the American church to be transformational to society. That’s the direction we are called to. The solution won’t be by laws or fighting by certain laws to change society. We need to get out of our nice suburbs and into the places where the people are suffering.”
“It’s difficult to be a voice for God’s kingdom. The pressure we are under is between the empires (western Christianity and Israel and radical islam). We need to embrace the Kingdom of God. The seductiveness of western empire and fear of radical Islam will lead to escapism. We need to stay here and be a witness and to be awakened to the call upon us to present the Kingdom of God and not be overwhelmed by the pressure of the two empires,” he says.

It is a fact that not too many aware that there are Palestinian Christians. There’s no place for us in the Middle East. We are not welcome and we’ve been told that by all parties. The church here needs to be encouraged,” he admits.

“We don’t need to be flooded with money. That will spoil us. We need a wise engagement in areas where we can contribute to a better understanding of how to reach our neighbors and find an area where you can be involved with us like leadership training, youth ministry, women’s ministry, etc.

“Saying that, we are having problems with political groups from outside which are threatening to split us. There are groups (Joel Rosenburg and the United Christians for Israel) who hold conferences with thousands of people, and others that have concerns with a justice-oriented approach who want to advocate for the Palestinian Christian church but the danger is that then you become like those you advocate against,” he warns.

“We have embraced that for a long time. Historically, we were not holding on by choice, but by necessity to survive. The Anabaptist position is embraced by all Palestinian Christians. With the 2nd Intifada the church took a position against weapons and suicide bombers. Non-violent engagement is our position. Myself and others have spoken very strongly against that.
“The nonviolent position is very strong among Palestinian Christians, but we need to be careful not to fall into the victim of the battle. For example, we had a conference called “Christ At The Checkpoint” and one Christian writer came and wrote against us because Tony Campolo was a guest. We are more than just one person. Musahala has hundreds of messianic Christians and Jews involved in the reconciliation process. The Christian media in the US refuses to give us a voice there because in certain circles we are called humanistic and others want to only promote their Christian Zionist agendas,” he says.

“You cannot have justice without reconciliation. Justice is a byproduct of people sitting together and settling their grievances and if you only talk about that you won’t settle the issue. Social Justice is closer to the biblical view but we want biblical justice.”

To learn more about Musalaha and Salim Muyaner, visit

Interview by Keith Giles

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Israeli Encountering Palestinian Identity

[Reprinted from Musalaha E-Newsletter with permission]

One weekend in October, our newest women’s group decided to meet together.  It was a Friday, a generally busy day for many.  The weekend is coming, we are making last minute preparations before Shabbat, planning activities for our children, and some of us are still at work.  Life gets in the way, and some of the 20 women who were registered began to call, “There was a death in the family,” and “My children need me this weekend.”  These all too often last minute cancellations are spiritual attacks that we can encounter in our events.  Yet, still 13 of our women were eager to meet. We spent the day discussing our identity. 

While a seemingly obvious discussion regarding our national, religious, and ethnic identifications, it’s not so easy to determine which identity we value most.  We often hold up signs and ask our participants to go to one or the other, “Jewish” or “Arab,” “Israeli” or “Palestinian,” “Christian” or “Messianic” or “believer.”  Yet when we begin to compare these identities and ask our participants to choose between their identifications – for example, “Palestinian” or “Christian” (or “Jewish” or “Messianic”), it becomes more complicated.  One participant chose “Palestinian” over “believer,” as she said her faith is between her and God, but her identity on this earth is in relation to others, and she is Palestinian.  Yet most chose their religious identity (“Christian,” “Messianic,” or “believer”) as their primary identification.

One of our Israeli participants wrote the following of her experience that weekend:

Our first small group meeting was challenging and inspiring. After a time of worship, a talk about identity, and a group exercise, we were divided into two groups, Israeli and Palestinian. Our task was to draw a picture of our identity as a group.

The Palestinian ladies drew a picture with a prominent Palestinian flag on the right. Small islands of land, they explained, indicated the cut up portions of the West Bank with Gaza cut off and alone. A large house stood next to a path, representing their homes and family life. On the other side of the path was a gigantic olive tree, representing the land they treasure, and a church similar to one in the home village of one of the ladies. The dividing path was long, seemed stony, and almost looked bloody because of the red marker used to draw it. The path was narrow but clearly divided all that they loved. The path ended near the top of the picture where there was a Bible and a cross.

One of the ladies went on to explain, ‘This is the long narrow path that Jesus said we have to walk on. We are committed to His Word, and the cross and the Bible represent the Kingdom of Heaven, our true home.’ And joy was evident in her expression as she shared.

Yet also evident in that drawing was the pain, the suffering, and the blood shed for the sake of giving up all to follow Jesus. I was so challenged. My Arab sisters had already made sacrifices to follow Jesus, but they were willing to give up everything for Jesus; Am I?

Later we had a precious time of prayer. I am looking forward to getting to know these dear sisters better. For now politics and borders separate us. We will never really be able to share in each other’s lives as we could if we were neighbors. But we can pray for each other, and I am looking forward to the day when I will have eternity to get to know them, and many other precious saints in the only Kingdom of which every person can become a citizen —the Kingdom of Heaven.”

By Debbie (Israeli Participant)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Teen Thrown In Violent New York Prison For Years Without Ever Having Been Convicted

Bronx resident Kalief Browder was walking home from a party when he was abruptly arrested by New York City police officers on May 14, 2010. A complete stranger said Browder had robbed him a few weeks earlier and, consequently, changed the 16-year-old's life forever.

Browder was imprisoned for three years before the charges were dropped in June 2013, according to a WABC-TV Eyewitness News investigation.

At the time of the teen's arrest, Browder's family was unable to pay the $10,000 bail. He was placed in the infamously violent Rikers Island correctional facility, where he remained until earlier this year.

Now that he's free, the young man is speaking up about his experience.

"I spent three New Year's in there, three birthdays...," Browder, now 20, said in a recent interview with WABC, adding that he was released with "no apology."

In October, Browder filed a civil lawsuit against the Bronx District Attorney, City of New York, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Corrections and a number of state-employed individuals.

The official complaint states Browder was "physically assaulted and beaten" by officers and other inmates during his time at Rikers Island. The document also maintains the accused was "placed in solitary confinement for more than 400 days" and was "deprived meals." In addition, officers allegedly prevented him from pursuing his education. Browder attempted suicide at least six times.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Browder's current lawyer Paul Prestia summarized his client's experience as "inexplicable" and "unheard of." Based off one man's identification, Browder was charged with robbery in the second degree, he notes. It took three years to dismiss these charges, even though it was, in Prestia's words, a "straightforward case to try."

"The city needs to be held accountable for what happened," Prestia said. "[Browder] had a right to a fair and speedy trail, and he wasn't afforded any of that. He maintained his innocence the entire time, and essentially got a three year sentence for that."

Still, when Browder was offered a plea deal in January, he refused to take it, because he did not want to plead guilty to the crime, WABC-TV notes. (Had Browder been tried in a timely fashion and pled guilty to the crime, Prestia told HuffPost, he might have spent less time in prison.)

Prestia adds that his client has suffered lingering mental health problems, and though he's currently going to school for his GED, he's "clearly way behind from where he would have been."

"We need someone to be held accountable," Prestia said. "This can't just go unnoticed. To the extent that [Browder] can be financially compensated -- although it's not going to get those years back for him -- it may give him a chance to succeed."

The District Attorney's office said it was unable to comment, as Browder's allegations are currently the subject of ongoing litigation.

Incidentally, Browder's claims about his experience at Rikers Island are consistent with findings from a recent report commissioned by the New York City Board of Correction. The report, obtained by The Associated Press, notes that the use of force by prison staff has more than tripled from 2004 to 2013, from seven incidents of force per 100 inmates, to almost 25. Additionally, the number of self-mutilation and suicide attempts by Rikers inmates have increased by 75 percent from 2007 to 2012. According to the report, 40 percent of the city jail's 12,200 inmates are mentally ill, and many of these inmates are placed in solitary confinement "holes" as punishment. 

Credit - Amanda Scherker

Monday, November 25, 2013

Almighty God Action Figure

Because your kids are never too young to learn God wants to smite you.

When one raises an eyebrow at the interpretation of the violent passages in the Old Testament, many will label you a heretic. Yet, I hope this depiction of "God Almighty" puts a pit in our stomach.

However, as the Peace Pastor comments, this is a "Sick. Twisted. Unbiblical. Repulsive. Completely American Protestant expression of how to 'reach' our kids for 'Christ.'"

New marketing ploy for Evangelical America: Appeal to our hankering for military-grade weapons and "a commitment to make someone bleed." Paint God as that.

And let's not even get into the fact that "God Almighty" is depicted as a white man.

So, do we chalk this up to: A clever joke, or another example of Fashioning God in Our Image?

[As the saying goes: "God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman...  returned the favor."]

To which are we more likely prone in America?

To quote Keith Giles' new prophetically written post, "America is an Empire, and like all Empires, America rules by death and fear and the sword. All while pretending she is for freedom and truth and democracy." Read the rest of America, Not Beautiful here, and then make up your mind on your own.

In the mean time, Benjamin Corey (of Formally Fundie) responds to "God Almighty" Action Figure with this reminder of who God is:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.”
-Psalm 103

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Renisha McBride and the Imago Dei" by Drew Hart

If you don't know the name Renisha McBride, you may have missed the news story of the 19 year old woman who crashed her car and, injured from the wreck, sought help from a nearby residence, who was then fatally shot by the homeowner in what some are calling a case of self-defense gone wrong. Others are quick to point out that this may be a case of racial profiling: it's important to note that McBride is an African American woman; her shooter, a white male.

Blogger and professor, Drew Hart offers a Biblical-narrative lens for this modern-day tragedy. He writes:
...Racialized biases pervade every encounter in America. On top of that, black women always must confront not only being black, and not only being a woman, but being a black woman. Renisha McBride had to navigate this difficult space, and on November 2, 2013, it became a death-dealing space.
For anyone, who while gazing at a black woman, thinks they know her essence and nature instantaneously must now realize that Jesus still stands in deep solidarity with marginalized women. No matter how much we stigmatize black women, Jesus reminds us that they are made in the Image of God and therefore prophetically asks us all “Do you see this woman?”
His critical lens is an important one to develop as we interact with culture and news reports. If Jesus navigated contemporary American culture, who would he identify with? At which moments would he whisper, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like this."

Read the rest of Drew's blog as he imagines out loud "Do you see this woman"—as Jesus would?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Freedom Song Friday: "We Are America" - Esperanza Spaulding's New Music Video Protests Guantanamo Bay

Esperanza Spaulding — Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter — released a new video which levels its aims at Guantanamo Bay by raising awareness of the Guantanamo Bay inmate hunger strike, and pleads with Congress to shut down the prison. In her words:
What motivated you to start this whole project to begin with, what was the spark?
It was the first time I heard about the hunger strike. I was touring in Europe and I was appalled and embarrassed about what was happening. I remember I started researching online to see what I could do about it and I saw that I could download this action pack. With that you had some important info to use to call your representative. And I did, I did call my representative and Senators. In fact, I got a letter back from one Senator who basically said that she was not going to proactively deal with it but that they would ‘keep my comments in mind’, or something like that. But I really wanted to do more. And my band actually came to me first and said they wanted to do something too.

[Read more: | Hat Tip:]

Thursday, November 21, 2013


America is not the messenger of Jesus. America is the messenger of Death. She masquerades as an angel of light, but her hands are full of murder and bloodshed. She is the Angel of Death.

America kills more people around the world than Al Quaeda every day around the world.

America spends more of its money on creating instruments of death than any other nation on Earth. More than the other fourteen largest nations combined.

No one loves death and war more than America.

America allows her own children to starve so that the most number of weapons can be built to kill as many people around the world as possible.

American is an Empire, and like all Empires, America rules by death and fear and the sword. All while pretending she is for freedom and truth and democracy.

America has more power than Rome ever had. America has the capacity to kill more people around the world than Rome ever dreamed of. She exploits more poor nations around the world and rules by intimidation and fear.

America is nothing like Jesus. She is not Christ-like. America is a bully.

America will kill children for financial gain.

America will exploit the poor to build greater wealth for herself.

America believes that if it can kill enough people, the world will become a better place.

America does not love freedom. America loves money.

America does not love the poor. America does not love anyone but herself, and money.

America's God is not Jesus. Her only gods are comfort, and safety, and luxury. War, and death and deception are in her heart.

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister (America): she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were proud and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.   For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.  Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.  In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’  Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her." (Rev. 18:4-8)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth (4 of 7)

By David D. Flowers

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus, Jn. 15:18

In the previous installment, I made the case that Jesus was not religious.

It is clear from the Gospels that Jesus did not seek to get his life from a system of religious beliefs and behaviors. On the contrary, he rebuked religious authorities and was hated by the religious world system.

Instead, Jesus got his LIFE from a relationship with the Father.

When we attempt to get our life from anything or anyone other than the person of Christ, whom the Scriptures testify as the source of all LIFE (Jn 10:38-40), we create for ourselves a religion. We must repent of it.

As I said in the introduction to this blog series, I’m using seven provocative statements as a way of summarizing the radical life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the NT. This is why the world hates Jesus and his good news.

And why they will hate those who choose to follow him.

Now we must seriously consider another reason for the world system’s hatred of Jesus. And it has to do with Jesus’ rejection of wealth and his woeful language to those who hoard it for their own pleasure.

4. Jesus Rejected Materialism

Second only to the religious leaders and hypocrites, Jesus’ strongest rebuke was reserved for those who are rich in this world. It’s a bit frightening.

In keeping with Yahweh’s heart expressed through the Prophets, Jesus carried on the OT tradition of defending the poor and pronouncing woes upon the rich (Prov 14:31; Isa 41:17; Jer 22:6; Ezek 16:49; Lk 4:18).

Listen to the words of Jesus from Luke 6:20-26 (NIV):

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.”
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”

It appears that the heart of Jesus’ rebuke against the rich is due to the fact that these people have oriented their entire lives around their wealth and status. They don’t own stuff, it owns them.

Meanwhile, the poor suffer.

For these folks, money has become an idol—an idol that demands the reforming of all priorities around the accumulation and hoarding of wealth. Money drives them. They are slaves to their god, Mammon!

“You can’t serve both God and money.” Jesus, Matt 6:24 NLT

Consider how a large bank account kept the rich young ruler from following Jesus (Lk 18:18-25). Jesus asked him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, but the man wasn’t willing or able to do it.
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When Jesus said it’s hard for the rich to “enter the kingdom” of God, he didn’t mean what many evangelicals mistakenly assume, i.e. that it’s hard for rich people to “go to heaven” when they die.

Far from it.

Jesus was never concerned about a post-mortem, disembodied, interim state called “heaven” between this life and the next. What he meant was that those who are are consumed with wealth, fooled by this world system of greed and covetousness, can’t see the beauty of the upside-down Kingdom of God on the earth, and therefore they most certainly will not inherit the resurrected world to come. They reject God’s economy now and forever.

As Jesus told the church at Laodicea, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:17 NIV).

Therefore, those who are rich in this world are incapable of understanding God’s economy and becoming oriented to the way of a lowly, itinerant Messiah who demands them share their wealth with those in need.

Think about the sort of Kingdom economics that Christ revealed:
  • The first shall be last, the last shall be first (Matt 19:29-30),
  • Leave everything behind for greater reward (Mk 10:29-31),
  • Hire at different times, pay the same wages (Matt 20:1-16),
  • Willing to leave ninety-nine for one (Matt 18:12-14),
  • Sell/leave everything necessary for the Kingdom (Matt 13:44-46),
  • Give out of your poverty, not just abundance (Mk 12:41-44),
  • Cancel the debt owed to you (Matt 6:12; 18:21-35),
  • Don’t hoard, use abundance for the Kingdom (Matt 25:14-30),
  • Seek the Kingdom and needs will be met (Lk 12:31).
Jesus rejected materialism for the sake of the Kingdom. He left his family and livelihood to travel the countryside preaching he was the manger-born Messiah promised by the Prophets. He lived and taught things that your financial planner most certainly wouldn’t approve of, even in a good year.

He turned over the tables of moneychangers and drove out those who profit from religion. Jesus didn’t take money from the bank, he walked in and knocked it to the floor—showing its cosmic insignificance to God.

Jesus called Roman tax collectors to repent, no doubt a treasonous act. He told his followers to pay taxes without grumbling against Caesar, seen as nothing more than blasphemous capitulation to the system.

Jesus said to “store up for yourselves riches in heaven” where nothing can steal or destroy it (Matt 6:19-20). In heaven, God’s space, it’s safe. Jesus’ invitation is to invest in a Kingdom that will last.

When your treasure is with God, you don’t have to worry about economic recessions, falling stocks, and government shutdowns.

You live for the Kingdom until you die. Don’t worry about stuff, because you can’t take it with you.

With the Kingdom plan, you don’t have to worry about retirement (Lk. 6:24; 12:13-21). It’s taken care of already.
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Jesus, Lk 12:21 NLT

While Jesus isn’t suggesting that we all live destitute, he clearly warns about the great dangers of living to accumulate wealth, and the power it has to shift the mind to things that are passing away (Matt. 6:24; 13:22).

As the proverb says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’” Prov 30:8-9 NIV

Jesus told a sobering parable of a rich man who went to hell, and a poor man named Lazarus who joined the Father in heaven at his death (Lk. 16:19-31). It’s the only parable where the righteous person is named, and the “rich man” is left nameless. How troubling for the rich in this world.

He means to say with this parable that the time to repent is now, before it’s too late. The world system, and those who currently benefit from it, are on the way out. Make your choice: God or money?
“This is what Jesus had in mind: folks coming together, forming close-knit communities and meeting each other’s needs– no kings, no major welfare systems, no presidents necessary. His is a theology and practice for the people of God, not a set of suggestions for empire.” Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President
Let’s face it. It’s greed and power that drives the quest for empire—an empire that is prophesied to fall (Rev 18). It’s that same lust for wealth that seeks to take root in our own hearts. The good news of Jesus declares the old way of competition, accumulation, and domination to be finished.

The love of money is the root of all that is evil in the world (1 Tim 6:10). The clarion call of Christ is to spit out the maddening wine of empire, and instead drink from the fresh springs of God’s economy.
Just know that those who hold the coffers won’t go silently. They hated Jesus and his message, so they will hate those who decide to follow him.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth (3 of 7)

By David D. Flowers

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus, Jn. 15:18

In the previous installment, I discussed two reasons the world system hates Jesus. Jesus Proclaimed the Kingdom of God and Jesus Was Not Patriotic.

When you’re a part of the world system that glorifies one worldly kingdom over another, you oppose the transnational Kingdom of God.

Likewise, when you respond to the good news by following Jesus in radical discipleship, you oppose nationalism and the politics of Caesar. You become an enemy of the state. Sooner or later you’ll find yourself hated like Jesus.

As I said in the introduction, I’m using seven provocative statements to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the NT.

If you’re a skeptic, I hope that you will seriously consider the historical Jesus of the Gospels. If you count yourself among the church, I pray that you will rethink what you thought you already knew about Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, let’s look at another controversial, and oft-neglected, aspect of Jesus’ teaching and example. This specifically involves the religious leaders and the hatred Jesus incited among them for rejecting their religion.

3. Jesus Was Not Religious

The word “religion” derives from the Latin religio, which referred to a binding obligation. In first century Palestine, the word was not used the way we use it today. In the time of Jesus, if someone said something was “religio to me”, it meant that they had a special obligation to it.

This obligation could be anything from a commitment to cults of the gods, to something more “secular” like oaths to family, government, military, etc.

Whatever the oath involved, this special obligation was about life and identity. Therefore, it meant that this “religion” involved a set of rules, regulations, and rituals that provided cultural meaning and purpose.

The danger of religion, in ancient or modern times, is that LIFE is said to be found in a system of behavior and beliefs.

This requires that a person root their identity in the ideas and boundaries set by the religious community. You don’t want to buck the religious system.

For this very reason, second temple Judaism could not contain Jesus. The religious leaders, and guardians of their sacred religion, demanded strict adherence to their own system of correct behavior and beliefs.

Consider some of the ways that Jesus rejected their religion:
  • He healed on the Sabbath, violating their religious code (Matt 12:9).
  • He ate with enemies and sinners (Matt 9:11; Mk 2:16).
  • He touched “unclean” people, they touched him (Lk 5:12, 8:43).
  • He turned over the tables of the Temple (Mk 11:15; Jn 2:15).
  • He challenged religious traditions (Mk 7:3-5).
  • He challenged traditional interpretations (Matt 5:38-48).
  • He despised religious prayers (Matt 6:5-8; Lk 18:11).
  • He rebuked religious authority (Matt 23:13; Lk 12:1).
While Jesus was certainly a good Jew, a true Israelite (Jn 1:47), it can’t be denied that he opposed religion’s threat against the Kingdom of God. And for this act of sedition, the religious leaders wanted him dead (Mk 12:12).
Since religious people get their life from the rightness of their behaviors and beliefs, anyone who challenges them, is a threat to their life. Their response is to stop the threat, violently if necessary. We call them fundamentalists.
Jesus said that religion is merely a self-righteous platform by which a person can judge others who aren’t like them. It’s bad for the soul. It creates obstacles for people, even repelling them from coming into the Kingdom.
Not only did Jesus oppose this club mentality, invariably found within religion, he rebuked the religious leaders, saying that they themselves didn’t live up to their own standards of behavior and belief.
“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.” Jesus, Matt 23:1-4 NLT
Religious people crush others with their religious demands, and they are a burden as they stand at a distance condemning people that don’t share their beliefs and practices. All the while they’re dirty on the inside.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Jesus, Matt 23:27-28 NLT
The words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 23 has to be the strongest rebuke by Jesus in all of the Gospels. In fact, nothing quite compares to Jesus’ rebuke of religious hypocrites. It’s no wonder they hated him.
“Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?” Jesus, Matt 23:33
Jesus taught that if you want to escape the doom of religious people doing religious things, then you must repent of religion. Stop trying to find LIFE in your system of “right” beliefs and behaviors, even in the Bible. And instead root yourself in the One of who is LIFE: Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Jesus, Jn 10:38-40 NIV
Many evangelicals are convinced that they are getting their LIFE from Jesus, but instead they continue to drink water from a well that has been condemned by Christ. They drink insipid water. And the symptoms of this religious disease is pride, arrogance, intolerance, and a judgmental spirit.
“The Kingdom’s revolt against religion, including the Christian religion, is on a totally different level. It is a revolt against all attempts to get Life from particular beliefs—including true ones. For where God truly reigns over an individual or a community, their only source of Life is God, not the rightness of their beliefs.” Greg Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Religion, pg 60.
It is quite clear from the Gospels that “religion” is part of the world system. When Jesus said the world hated him first, religion is a part of that world.
Those who repent of religion will stand out like Jesus, and be known for their love, justice, mercy, and forgiveness (Matt 23:23; Jn 13:34-35).
Like Jesus who led the way, his followers may be dubbed a liberal, sin-loving, blasphemer by those who are invested in the religious system, but they will be called the greatest in the kingdom of God.
D.D. Flowers, 2013.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Part 2 of 7: Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth

By David D. Flowers

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” - Jesus, (Jn. 15:18)

In the introduction to this blog series, I listed seven reasons why the world system hates Jesus. As I stated previously, I have decided to use these seven provocative statements to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus. I’m addressing the first two in this post because they are so closely related.

Let’s be honest, many who profess Christ today have simply not understood the reasons why Jesus was seen as a threat to the world in which he lived. In many evangelical churches you will find that there is mostly an emphasis on his birth, death, and resurrection (e.g. Christian holidays).

This is no doubt a result and lingering effect of Christendom—the merger of church and state which began in the 4th century AD. When “Christians” choose the sword and political power, the life and teachings of Jesus must be spiritualized or ignored altogether, since Jesus doesn’t support it.

Many evangelicals in America have attempted to embrace the world and Christ (1 Jn. 2:15-17). The only way to embrace the world and Christ is to change Christ. It is a Christianity that shapes Jesus to fit an agenda and perverts true discipleship at its core (Matt. 5:38-48; Jn. 13:34-35).

“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.” (John 12:47-48) NIV
Jesus demands a complete commitment to discipleship (Matt. 16:24; Lk. 5:11; 12:53). It’s not very popular these days to even suggest it, but it’s true. Jesus draws the line in the sand and says, “Follow me.” Because if you don’t follow the authentic Jesus, it has consequences for the age to come.

When the life and teachings of Jesus are stonewalled in order that our faith might fit secular agendas, or to accommodate our sin, the gospel is rendered powerless and ineffective in its purpose to bring all nations (ethnic groups) to confess him as Lord and King (Phil. 2:10; Rev. 3:14-21; 5:9).

Christ’s command was to make disciples of all nations, thus calling them out of the kingdoms of the world and setting them apart into a holy nation called the church (Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9). Right here. Right now.

Jesus called this radical revolution… the Kingdom of God.

1. Jesus Proclaimed the Kingdom of God

It was the central focus of Jesus’ ministry on the earth. He said the Father had sent him for this purpose (Lk 4:43). It’s the Son of Man in Daniel 7, coming to give the Spirit to those that would receive him.

“The time promised by God has come at last!” The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mk 1:15) NLT

Repent. Jesus is saying that we must stop, turn, and move in the direction of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is what it looks like when God is running the show. And what exactly does that look like? It looks like Jesus loving, serving, and dying for those that crucified him. It always looks like Jesus.
But first we must repent. We must turn from our own way. Turn from the world system of power-over others. Turn from a world of greed, hate, coercion, violence, sexual immorality, and all forms of self-gratification.

It’s called sin. And it misses the mark of God’s good will for the world.

Everyone must regularly repent in order to follow Jesus and join the Kingdom revolution. Why?

Because we’re broken. Because the world is not presently what it ought to be. And like gravity, the world system constantly presses against you. Repentance is the way to defy it.

Repentance is an act of defiance against all that opposes God’s reign and rule being known in our lives, and in the world.

Jesus defied religious and political powers with his “good news” about the Kingdom that was already breaking into this present evil age with his arrival. He upset the so-called natural order of things.

Jesus rejected the image of a sword-wielding Messiah, and told Pilate that his Kingdom is “not of this world” (Jn 18:36). He said that Satan is the sinister culprit behind the kingdoms of the world (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Therefore, grasping for political power was a fool’s errand (Matt 4:8-10).

The early church believed that ‘Jesus is Lord’, and Caesar is not. That’s good news for those who recognize that this world system is spinning violently out of control, void of life and headed for destruction.

It’s good news for the poor, the sick, and the oppressed. It’s good news for those who see their need for a Savior, and acknowledge that no government or yoga meditation is going to sort out the mess.

We need help from above.

It’s good news if you aren’t invested in the power-over methods of the kingdoms of the world. It’s gospel to those who recognize their spiritual poverty, and are willing to repent for new life—eternal life in Christ.

But like those still plugged into The Matrix, this message of the Kingdom of God threatens those dependent upon the world system for life, security, and a sense of purpose. Those who are happy with the way things are, with themselves and the world, aren’t going to like the coming Kingdom.
“The establishment of God’s kingdom means the dethroning of the world’s kingdoms, not in order to replace them with another one of basically the same sort (one that makes its way through superior force of arms), but in order to replace it with one whose power is the power of the servant and whose strength is the strength of love.” N.T. Wright, How God Became King, pg 205
Jesus said you must be “born again” to wake up to the reality of God’s Kingdom at work in the world (Jn 3:3). Only then can you begin to discover the power of the upside-down Kingdom. Repent and believe the good news!

Just be aware that this Kingdom revolution is a threat to those that love the world system. They may hate you for it. They hated Jesus.

He was crucified for proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

2. Jesus Was Not Patriotic

I’m entirely bewildered by how so many evangelicals don’t understand this aspect of Jesus. If you have seriously examined the Kingdom of God, and that Jesus is calling people to leave their former allegiances, there is no way to miss this. Jesus was not patriotic. Boy, this really upsets the applecart.

No matter how you slice it, patriotism goes beyond an “appreciation” for the good of one’s own country and heritage. It is love for a kingdom other than God’s transnational Kingdom. It’s like sharing your bed with a harlot.

Patriotism sets up an idolatrous fortress in the human heart. It demands allegiance—forming thoughts and priorities that are antithetical to the gospel.

“Patriotism” has always been a deceptive term—infused with counterfeit virtue—meant to cover up the idolatrous nationalism that it breeds. It’s tribalism, plain and simple. The gospel simply does not allow it.

Patriotism says, “We are special. We are the good. God is on our side.”

No doubt that Yahweh had to put up with this tribalism in the OT to a certain extent. But even then we can see God working within the ANE framework in order to bring his covenant people out of this worldly kingdom thinking (Gen 12:1-3; 1 Sam 8:7; 1 Chron 22:8; Isa 42:6).

Ultimately, Israel’s story, which is part of the church’s story, teaches us that worldly kingdom power, with all its violence and corruption, fails to bring about God’s redemptive purposes in the world (Ps 11:5; Isa 2:4).

This is the very thing that Jesus was rebuking in his proclamation of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God doesn’t come about through law or violence, but instead by love of neighbor and enemy (Matt 5:38-48).
"If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. Jesus," (Matt 5:46-47) NLT

It’s a peaceable Kingdom that transforms the inner man. It moves forward in love. This radical love doesn’t stop at the border. It reaches across imaginary lines on a map. It rejects tribalism and calls for a new world order.

Jesus declared that the new nation that God was forming would be made up of Jews and Gentiles (i.e. multiethnic & multicultural). Therefore, the Kingdom calls for equality and diminishes ethnic boundaries (Lk 4:24-30).

Jesus greatly offended the Jewish people because of this vision of the future. It didn’t jive with their “we’re the greatest nation on the planet” attitude.

They loved their tribalism and hated him for suggesting that they really loved the world more than God and his Kingdom. There was no room in their patriotic hearts for the King of the cosmos and his transnational love.

You know the rest of the story. The Jewish leaders brought it to the attention of the Roman Empire that Jesus proclaimed himself a king and called for a kingdom that was juxtaposed to the euangellion of Caesar.

Jesus was crucified for his treasonous, unpatriotic words and actions against the glory of Rome. He was handed over by his own people in part because they hated him for not sharing their love of ‘God and country’.

The world will hate those who follow in his steps.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth (1 of 7)

By David D. Flowers

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus, Jn. 15:18


Why would anyone actually hate Jesus? It’s much more understandable that people might have an extreme dislike for Christians, being that many professing believers don’t take the teachings of Jesus very seriously.

But hate Jesus?

It’s no secret that many skeptics and critics of Christianity would agree with Ghandi, the Hindu guru who admired Jesus for his call to non-violent resistance. Ghandi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

I will be the first to empathize with this sort of repugnant response from non-believers against the Christian faith. It’s disheartening to know that many Christians have outright rejected the teachings of Jesus—either largely due to ignorance or extensive efforts to do some manner of hermeneutical gymnastics around the biblical text.

Regardless of the reason, there is simply no excuse for it. If you’re an atheist or skeptic reading this, I’m sorry that some Christians make it difficult for you to see the image and will of God fully expressed in the person of Jesus. I’m sorry when and where I have failed you.

Truthfully, even authentic followers of Jesus will fail to live up to Christ’s example. Therefore, if you are a skeptic, I would say there are Christians that accept all of the teachings of Jesus and are presently on a journey of faith with the intent to see Christ’s life manifested through them by the power of his Spirit. There are real disciples—true learners.

Now let me say that I don’t think that misguided Christians should be the basis by which a person makes a judgment about Jesus Christ of Nazareth. As he said to those in his own day who were trying to make up their mind about him, Jesus says to all of us today:

“Who do you say that I am?”

Who was Jesus? What did he teach? What did he believe about himself? What did he accomplish in his short ministry? And what does it have to do with me? If we will approach the Gospels in all sincerity and with an open heart, I believe we may encounter Christ for ourselves.

So what is it that Jesus had in mind when he said that the world would hate his followers because it first hated him? Well, rest assured that it’s not for being hypocritical, or for purposely being self-righteous jerks.

Jesus said, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (Jn. 15:19).

What then does it mean to “not belong” to this present world system? For that is indeed what Jesus has in mind. He is not promoting some sort of Gnostic escapism. His kingdom is not of this world, but it is for this world.

As God intends to bring heaven to earth, how has Christ called us to live in this world that lovers of the world would hate us for it?

That’s what this series of posts will address.

I intend to argue that we must take Jesus at his word or do away with him entirely. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer has written, “There are only two ways possible of encountering Jesus: man must die or he must put Jesus to death.” In other words, you must lose your life if you wish to save it.

In an attempt to clarify the gospel message for Christians and skeptics alike, I have chosen seven primary reasons for why the political and religious leaders in the first century hated Jesus and had him put to death. And of course why the world system still hates Jesus of Nazareth today.
I will briefly expound on each of these in the next six posts:
  1. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God.

  2. Jesus was not patriotic.

  3. Jesus was not religious.

  4. Jesus rejected materialism.

  5. Jesus challenged worldly wisdom.

  6. Jesus was loving and intolerant.

  7. Jesus revealed the new way to be human.

This is not an exhaustive list. I have simply decided to use these seven provocative statements to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus.

This summary will help us to stare long and hard at the most controversial man in all of human history, and to rethink what we thought we knew about the radical Jewish Messiah from Nazareth.

It’s my hope that Christians will consider if they have fully accepted the teachings of Jesus regarding the gospel of the kingdom of God, and if they are intentional in being obedient to Christ’s commands.

If you are a skeptic, it’s my prayer that you will open your heart to the historical Jesus in the Gospels of the New Testament—that you might know him as being alive today and doing something about evil.

In my next post, I’ll begin by expounding on the first two reasons together, since they are related. For the remaining five, I will address each of them individually. I intend to keep them succinct as possible for easier reading.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013




Last Wednesday’s reflection was about Peggy’s and my experience in St. Peter’s Square ten days ago. It was then, I was saying, that Pope Francis gently and subtly confronted our bellicose president and joined Russia’s President Putin in defusing a potentially disastrous crisis not only for Syria and the United States, but for the world. I suggested the pope might be the unsung hero of day.


By all measures, President O’Bomb ‘em was the villain.


His speech last Tuesday confirmed that. There he maintained his belligerent stance despite world opinion, that of the U.S. electorate, and of world moral leaders. Worse still, he portrayed the administration’s position as continuous with a supposed United States moral leadership. Specifically, he claimed that for seven decades the United States had been “the anchor of global security.”


Let’s see: that would bring us back to 1943. Was Mr. Obama referring to the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1954 and the 25 year reign of terror by Mosaddegh’s CIA replacement, the brutal Shaw of Iran, Resa Palavi? Or perhaps Obama had in mind the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guatemala’s democratically elected president that same year – and the 40 year dirty war waged by the U.S. supported military which then killed more than 200,000 of “their own people.” Or was the president thinking of the U.S. wars in Indochina and the millions of lives it claimed. Or perhaps he was referring to the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected president Salvador Allende in 1973 – on September 11th of that year (what Latin Americans refer to as “the first September 11th). By all measures, the Chile coup was far worse than what occurred here on September 11th 2001. Or maybe the president was referring to our countries disastrous support of Mobutu in the Congo or of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The list truly goes on and on.


Either our Harvard educated president is ignorant of those details, has forgotten them or he was deliberately lying to intentionally foster Americans’ legendary ignorance of history. I’d recommend that he read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States and Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the United States. That would make him realize that only the ignorant can say (as the president put it in his speech) that we are “exceptional.”


That is, unless by American “exceptionalism” he meant (as Rob Kall recent

 ly put it) that:


“We have more prisoners than any other nation– and most of them haven’t harmed anyone, but prosecuting and jailing them keeps them off the voter roles in many states.


We have the largest military and largest military budget– which means more money going to expenses that do not grow the economy or build the nation’s inner resources and strengths.


We spend more on healthcare than any other nation, yet we are the only first world nation, the only member of the G-20 nations which does not provide health care for all citizens.


We are a nation that spends more on spying on citizens than any other nation.


We are a nation that uses more psychiatric drugs than any other nation.


We are a nation that sets the standard for voting corruptibility, with electronic tallying that is impossible to reliably recount.


The list goes on and on, and then there are all the other list items where we are low, like infant death rate, access to WIFI, educational skills…”



No, America is not exceptional in the way the president meant. It is a rogue state, an outlaw state. It is the world’s bully and needs to be reined in.


Interestingly, the ones doing that reining are the pariahs of the last century, Russia diplomatically and China economically. For example, it was the Russian president who in the Syrian crisis ended up taking the high road stressing the need for diplomacy, dialog, and reconciliation.


Definitely conceding that high ground to Mr. Putin, Mr. Obama seemed content with the low. While calling Mr. Assad to observe international law, Mr. Obama himself violated those norms by peppering his speech last week with threats of violence that are themselves thereby prohibited. (Remember, the use or threat of force outside circumstances of immediate self-defense is prohibited by international law.)


So with black hat firmly in place, the U.S. president attempted to persuade Americans, both conservative and liberal of the moral superiority of bombing rather than diplomacy, dialog, and reconciliation. In defending the morality of bombing, the president said nothing of the will of his constituents or the alignment of votes in Congress. Certainly, no mention was made of the dissenting positions of Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Dali Lama all of whom had strongly opposed Mr. Obama’s plans.


Meanwhile, the president ignored a golden opportunity for using Mr. Assad’s concessions around chemical weapons for ridding the entire Middle East of such threats along with nuclear weapons. He could easily have done so and reclaimed the true moral high ground by calling for a Geneva Conference to that end.


He did not for one simple reason. And that is that Israel, America’s staunch ally, has refused to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention which prohibits not only the use of chemical weapons, but their possession. Israel stands in violation of international law in virtue of its huge stockpile of chemical weapons along with an equally huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. No one in our government or the mainstream press says anything about that. They never will.


Israel also continues to illegally occupy the Golan Heights in Syria no less.


There’ll be no discussion of that either by our president, secretary of state or mainstream media.


Mr. Obama succeeded in only one thing last Tuesday. He made it clear that he and his country are not exceptional.


We are “deceptional” on the one hand and deceived on the other.


Mike Rivage-Seul


Re-posted with permission. Follow Mike’s blog at: