Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Second Coming of Obama

A friend of mine asked me for my opinion on a recent cover page of Newsweek's online article.  It shows a profile photo of President Obama and the wording:  "The Second Coming."  This brought instant furor on Facebook.  My friend asked me what I thought about it.  I decided to go straight to the source.

It took me quite awhile to actually find the article by Newsweek in regards to the cover they posted.  On either the third or fourth page of my Google search did I finally find Newsweek's actual article.  (I thought at first that I would need to have a subscription again.  I hadn't had one since I moved overseas to Germany 12 years ago.)  Every other Google page in reference to Newsweek's article were from conservative Christian magazines and FOXNews, lambasting Newsweek for even comparing Obama to Jesus Christ and his Second Coming.

For your information, here is the actual article in regards to the cover page:

As you can see, it had little to do with President Obama being the Messiah, but rather could he deliver a speech that would inspire the nation in his Inaugural Address?  This was the question addressed in the article.  It had mentioned that most Inaugural Speeches failed at this, with the notable exception of John F. Kennedy's speech and that was from 1961.  Hardly recent.  Newsweek suggested that Abraham Lincoln's second Inaugural Address was the one that meant the most because it came from his heart.

Let me address the very obvious:  Did Newsweek use a religious term on purpose with the President's portrait.  Absolutely they did.  This is nothing new.  Newspapers and magazines have use sensational headlines all the time so that they would grab potential readers' gazes and have them purchase their magazine.  In this particular instance, Newsweek succeeded admirably.

However:  I am very disturbed that Christian magazines and websites are harping on this article.  First, if they were so offended by it, they should have left it alone and brought no attention to it so that Newsweek wouldn't have succeeded in their marketing ploy.  Secondly, after a very quick perusal, I could find no reference in these websites to the actual article.  The uproar was about the cover page and not about the article itself.  They judged a book by its cover and not its content.

Finally, I am amused and also disturbed that conservative Christian websites are upset about this.  I have read in so many different websites, articles, and other sources where President Obama is compared to the Antichrist.  They ranged from insinuations to outright declarations of the title.  There is no evidence for this whatsoever.  I believe that it is hypocritical for conservative Christians to flaunt their proclamations of the President being the Antichrist and yet cry "Foul!" when another news sources simply insinuates the opposite as a marketing ploy.  I also think it is ridiculous that Protestant Christians didn't vote for him:  the only Protestant Christian on the ticket.  Some Christians said that they were looking beyond Mitt Romney's religion.  I say that they were settling for Mitt Romney because he became the Republican Party candidate. Then they had to do some inner soul searching as to whether or not one could be a Christian and vote for a Mormon. And as absurd as it sounds, many Evangelical Christians equate Christianity with Republicanism.  To vote for anyone else except a Republican is considered to be heretical.

In other words, Newsweek won.  Conservative Christians missed the point and actually helped Newsweek's cause.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bereshit . . .

This is the beginning for me and also for my blog.  If you wondering about my title, it is the Hebrew transliteration of the first word in the Bible:  "In the beginning."  I have been wanting to adequately express myself for some time now to let people know who I am and where I am in my life.  I have tried to do this on an infrequent basis with various tools, but unsuccessfully.  So now I will try here.

For those of you who already know me, you know that I am a Salvation Army officer.  I have been one for 12 1/2 years now, commissioned on 28 May 2000.  I spent the majority of my officership overseas in Germany.  I returned with my family in June of 2010, having spent 10 years in Germany.  I was a permanent resident and my 2 oldest boys were born there and my third was on the way; however, The Salvation Army saw fit to transfer us back to America during the middle of our 4 term.  We knew for a year that we would be returning; however, it was still a shock and an adjustment for us.

I always like to keep things in perspective and to offer that perspective to others.  To clarify for you on how long I had been in Germany, I'll give you this statement:  I lived in Germany since before the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Things had changed in America since I had been gone.

I was confronted by many things that had changed since my time overseas.  Then I realized that the biggest thing that had changed was myself.  I had changed so much in the past 10 years, I realized that I was no longer the same person I was before.

I first realized things were different when we were preparing for the birth of our son.  Our first 2 boys were born by water birth.  It was very relaxing for my wife and she didn't want to use any medication, which I supported.  When we found out that we were moving to Ludington, we searched for facilities that would offer water births, but the closest was in Muskegon, which is about an hour away.  I didn't feel that my wife would like to drive in a car for an hour with the possibilities of anything happening.  We did find a midwife in Hesperia, just south of us, who was more than willing to do a water birth.  We had used midwives before in Germany.  Our first 2 sons were born that way.  Midwives are the norm, not the exception in Germany.  Obstetricians are only called in if there were an emergency.

Our insurance would cover the expenses of a midwife; however, they required that we also have a gynecologist give her prenatal care.  Suddenly, doors slammed in our face.  No gynecologist would accept my wife to give her just prenatal care because they were afraid we would sue them should something go wrong during the birth.  Even talking to other physicians, they were aghast at how we had given birth in Germany.  Our gynecologist in Germany wasn't allowed to be at the hospital for the birth.  Only hospital staff were allowed to be there.

To make a long story short, we actually found a gynecologist willing to work with us and our son was born with 10 fingers and 10 toes on Halloween at our home using a water birthing pool.  God was good to us.

I then heard a huge uproar about NPR.  People wanted to defund NPR because of some statements their CEO had said and because of their firing of Juan Williams.  That got me curious.  I remember listening to NPR with my father growing up and heard nothing wrong about it.  Then people started saying that they were so liberal.  So, I decided to listen to NPR to see what the brouhaha was all about.  I started by listening to the Diane Rehm show.  It was good and informative.  I kept on listening.  I didn't hear anything terribly offensive whatsoever.  Both sides of the story were always presented.  I actually made a donation to my local NPR (IPR Interlochen) during their listener support time.

Finally, one of our soldiers told me that I was a liberal.  I never even thought about it until he told me so to my face.  Then I realized it.  I was a liberal.  I was tired of Fox News being outrageous in their claims and always asserting that all of the other news agencies were biased.  It sounded a lot to me like certain religious groups (such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) saying that theirs was the only true viewpoint.  Fox had become caustic to me and absurd.  I stopped listening to Rush Limbaugh a long time ago, especially when he started publicly offending people on the air.  I never heard Diane Rehm do that.

I started to express my opinions.  I discovered that most Evangelical Christians in America were Republican.  People accused me of being evil and unchristian.  Some people in my own family started to criticize my views.  It was bizarre.  One family member even told me to stop talking about my time in Germany because people would start thinking I was unpatriotic.

What had happened?  Why had I changed?  I lived in a foreign country and saw and experienced a different type of system that actually worked.  I was glad to have had this experience and knew that it could work.  In fact, most Christians in Germany accepted that system.  They didn't criticize it that it was unchristian for the government to be doing social work and helping out the downtrodden.  In fact, they had succeeded where the Church had often failed.

Being a Salvation Army officer caused me to wonder how much of a stand I should take.  My own wife suggests I restrain myself.  A good friend of mine, Chick Yuill, suggested that I stand for what was right, while maintaining integrity in my own life, so that no one could accuse me of having a double standard.  A professor of mine in college once remarked that one could be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time.  I came to realize that this was true.  I also realized something else.  I wasn't a Democrat.  I was more in line with the Green Party.

Some might be wondering, "Do you advocate that all should belong to that party?"  No.  I still believe just that one can be a Democrat and a Christian at the same time, that one can be a Republican and a Christian at the same time.  We are all diverse and unique.  If we believed all in the same way, it would be quite boring.  It's how we work together which is important.