Shock & Awe with Kavanaugh

EDITOR’S NOTE: We apologize for the headline. We couldn’t stop ourselves.

Now that Justice Kavanaugh is seated, let’s review and prognosticate.

We have learned without a shred of doubt that the U.S. Supreme Court is a political institution. This is astonishing to me, for one of the pronounced qualifications for Christian conservative Judges is that they be “strict constitutionalists” when it comes to interpreting law. That means the Supreme Court ought never make decisions based on anything other than the Constitution, and yet, here we have our “majority conservative” justices, which means that we ought to be able to predict with certainty how they will vote. In my experience, this is a very slippery slope, but we shall see.

Yes, conservatives have achieved their vaunted “conservative court,” although we’ve not really asked ourselves what that means to the judges. The old saying is waiting, “Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.” One has to wonder, too, how the savvy press will respond. Are they moving forward with expectations about how the court will behave, or are they willing to take a wait‐and‐see approach? It’s all about the narrative with these reporters, and my guess is that there’s a quiet competition underway to see who can first spot evidence of this “conservative court.”

Let me emphasize here that the Christian Right in this country has been fighting the Roe v Wade straw man for so long that few remember what it was like before that law was enacted. Abortion is among the top, most‐consistent fundraising keys for big ministries, because the “evil” of abortion has always made it easy for a certain group to open up their wallets. Electing this “conservative court” has been part and parcel of the fight against abortion. It is so foundational to the fundraising success of said ministries that one is left to wonder how they will deal with this. That’s what I would be watching, if I was active with the press today.

Predicting what comes next is actually pretty easy, if you’re familiar with the inner‐workings of these ministries. There are two likely paths of action for these zealous believers, the first using the same screed that the “pro‐lifers” used.

    PREMISE:
  • Abortion is sin
  • God hates sin (but He LOVES the sinner)
  • The cause of this scourge has been the sexual sin that is rampant in our culture
  • God expects us to wage war against sin
  • We’re willing, but we need your help to fight on your behalf

One might even say that a whole social movement has grown up alongside this premise, and now that the scent of victory is in the air due to the Kavanaugh confirmation, the energy behind it is likely to wane. Nothing kills social movements like the believed approach of the finish line. The movement will disappear unless those behind it can find a way to institutionalize the anger and its subsequent attachment to revenue giving.

Meanwhile, the church needs another straw man with which to stir things up and motivate giving, so it’s pretty easy to predict what comes next, and that will be an all‐out effort on capping sexual deviance and “the liberal sex practices” foisted upon us and our children (and especially, our grandchildren) by the pornographers, the escorts, the adult entertainers, Hollywood, the media, and those damned evil liberals. After all, wasn’t it this that led to the unwanted babies that abortion has slaughtered?

The irony of this particular President leading the charge is even more pronounced, but it won’t make a difference.

The second logical effort on the part of these evangelicals is Israel.

    PREMISE
  • God loves Israel
  • God’s plan for the salvation of man includes the end times described and exegeted by the church
  • This plan includes the return of Jesus Christ TO JERUSALEM.
  • It’s the duty of believers to unilaterally support all efforts of Zionists, including driving Palestinians out of their homeland and the designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • The Bible warns those who would oppose Israel in any way, so Israel can do no wrong.
  • 1948 was a true miracle demonstrative of God’s restorative grace
  • We need to do what we can to support Israel, and that includes you through supporting us, because we’re a part of the plan.

And so, these Christians will go hard after support for Netanyahu and his cronies who force illegal methods into maintaining their narrative that Jews are a persecuted people and that God miraculously gave “the promised land” back to the Jews in 1948. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether this is true or not; it is the perceived truth made known to the world through the political propaganda of the hard right. Atrocities, like forcing apartheid on Palestinians, are dismissed as collateral damage in God’s plan to put Israel back into the Middle East. Look at what’s happened in just two years under Mr. Trump’s leadership:

  1. We’ve moved our embassy to Jerusalem, to land given to the Palestinians during the original regional conflict. The Israeli’s don’t care.
  2. Settlements have expanded at a rate far above previous administrations. During the Obama Presidency, the State Department regularly criticized expansion but no more.
  3. The U.S. has cut off all aid to Palestinian groups who used it to care for the sick, injured, and starving Palestinians. By doing this, President Trump has declared to the world that his form of peace negotiations is through the subjugation of the Palestinian people. This is going to get worse, the farther downstream we drift on the path to setting up Israel as dictatorial rulers of the entire region.

Mark my words, the Middle East is going to boil as a result. In Biblical prophecy, these right‐wing fanatics believe, Iran, Turkey and Russia will come against Israel, which will jump‐start Armageddon. The Christians see nothing wrong in doing whatever they can to urge this forward. After all, maybe WE are supposed to be the agents that God uses to usher in the 1,000-year reign of Christ. Could be, right?

So get ready for a really HOT summer in 2019, for people who believe they’re doing God’s will are an immovable force, and the world is a much more dangerous place today than it was just a week ago. Personally, I’m shocked and awed.

May God have mercy on us.

Christian Islamophobia’s Grip on the Middle East

In what has to be the single most disgusting false witness ever published, Christianity Today — that bastion of truth for white evangelicals founded by none other than Billy Graham — asks “Can Christians Trust Muslim Hospitality?” People, let me be honest here: this article is straight from the pit of hell and is not fit for human consumption. It twists lies and half‐truths and out‐of‐context “teachings” to argue the dangerous and tired old madness that Islam is the greatest evil in the world. It makes me sick, and to the church I say, “Shame on you.”

We walk around parroting the damning lies of political propaganda never once stopping to question whether these lies might just be a little too convenient to be true. The narrative that Israel is the shining beacon of light to the region is so out of touch with what’s taking place on the ground as to make sanity seem the enemy. You can choose for yourself what’s real and what’s not, but for crying out loud, at least do the bare minimum of research for yourself and not just repeat what you’ve heard in church.

Let’s set the stage. This article claims, among other things, that Islam has an “alleged permission to lie” and goes on to actually urge caution in all dealings with Muslims. The piece quotes Tharwat Wahba, professor of mission at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (note: It’s a Christian institution):

“Accept kindness and friendship, but be alert and awake. Don’t be naïve. Some have agendas.”

Come on, man! You mean Christians don’t have agendas?

Christianity Today “Middle East correspondent” Jayson Casper is absolutely spinning in his own spinning when he makes the following false statements:

…some Christians today are comfortable delving into the conscience of everyday, ordinary Muslims, finding deception at every turn.

…Muslims are permitted by their faith to lie if it will advance the cause of their religion.

…in much anti‐Muslim discourse, taqiyya has been redefined into a religious obligation for Muslims to lie to non‐Muslims not simply for survival…but to serve the expansionist agenda of their religious community.

…an anti‐Muslim website draws attention to several references which seem to imply a license to lie.

Seriously? I mean, let me ask again, seriously? Where do I start with this utter nonsense? Firstly, taqqiya isn’t in Islam at all; it’s a part of the Shia religion, which is a far different animal. The West insists the Shia represent Islam, because their extremism makes for a better foil than the actual religion, but the differences between this small sect of fundamentalists and the religion as a whole can be profound. When arguing religion, it always helps to have your facts straight. Correspondent Casper surely knows where to turn to find “experts” who’ll validate the absurdities of his predisposition, and what good Christian would doubt a Middle Eastern “Christian” expert anyway, right?

There is MUCH at stake in proselytizing these falsehoods, for Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, largely because at its essence, the faith speaks to the poor and disenfranchised. Christianity — especially as its defined today — most certainly does not. It is now the great defender of the rich and, of course, the Republican Party tenets that favor the rich. As such, the war underway between Christians and Muslims is for the souls of that great mass of have‐nots globally, and in this battle, Islam is surely winning. It’s a war not only for souls but for resources, and little do the Christians realize how their sliding numbers are impacting the movement of global resources. America, especially now with Donald Trump, is seen worldwide as an oppressive tyranny of lust and greed that cares little for anyone other than themselves. And it is seen as such, in very large measure, due to its dominant religion — Christianity — supporting such a culture.

Just last week, Donald Trump ended America’s fiscal support for the oppressed Palestinians. While Pat Robertson claimed that we’re “sticking our fingers in the eyes of God” over cross‐dressers reading to children in a library, yanking the rug out from underneath people who are being systematically destroyed is the real rejection of God in the West. After forcing the UN to discontinue aid, we’ve now completely bowed out of any direct help to the oppressed, and we WILL pay the price.

This is just part of the reason this article in Christianity Today is so damning for the church. By dehumanizing Muslims, the magazine is giving its stamp on the process of eliminating them altogether, because they stand in the way of the global dominance of Americans, which is surely not that for which Jesus suffered and died.

“Serve Allah, and do not join any partners with Him. Do good to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near and neighbours who are strangers, the friend by your side as well as the traveller, and what your right hands possess. Allah does not love the arrogant and proud ones.” (Qur’an 4:36)

(Psst: And let me repeat that Allah is the Arab word for “God.” Do you think God cares what language is used to worship Him? How will you deal with that?)

Beware of God’s judgment, O Church

Who am I to speak about God’s judgment? In my pride, do I think I’m better than others? Is that it? Do I actually believe that God has spoken to me? Who the heck am I? “How dare you speak to us that way? Shall we list your sins and transgressions? What qualifies you?”

I got into a brief exchange the other day with a guy on Facebook over Christians and Trump. I made the statement that God is judging the church, which set him off with the attitude mentioned above. So let’s deconstruct this just a bit.

Christians, especially those of the white evangelical sort, embrace of form of speaking that’s lovingly referred to as “the language of Zion.” Trust me, if you know any of these folks, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like a secret handshake, and if you use it, a form of immediate trust is given. If you don’t use it, however, you’re immediately considered an outsider and a target for condescension. I can speak the language when necessary, but my default is to keep it to myself. However, the statement that God is judging the church is written in the language of Zion. What this man suggested, therefore, was that I must be haughtily assuming the role of prophet in making a statement about God’s judgment. Oh boy.

Firstly, as prophets go, I can’t possibly claim that status. For one, I’m a nothing and a nobody, but it’s also my belief that only others can bestow such a title on those sensitive to the presence of God. The prophets of old didn’t walk around glowing or surrounded by a heavenly host crying “Holy.” They didn’t drag behind them great throngs of worshippers as an entourage. They were often dirt poor but always had sustenance, because the power of their words was substantial and what they predicted came to pass. Naturally, then, people would give them things, food and possessions. In the language of Zion, “God took care of them.” So, if I’m somehow assuming the role of prophet in my pronouncement of judgment on the church, then we’ll just have wait and see what happens downstream, right? I claim nothing except the ability to read what I view as obvious signs among us.

Secondly, modern prophets aren’t always a part of any religion. Don’t have to be. I consider Bob Dylan to be a contemporary prophet, and I know he had a conversion experience once, but he represents — although not well — the trappings of the world. Modern prophets are found in the arts community, for only they have the sensitivity to hear “the voice of God.” That, by the way, is another use of the language of Zion, for connecting to the creator spirit doesn’t require the forms of holiness that those who speak it demand of “their” prophets.

It doesn’t take a genius or a special connection with life to see what’s going on today, and it always — ALWAYS — begins with the wellbeing of the poor and the afflicted. It’s simply impossible to miss or dismiss the constant references to this through both the old and new testaments. God’s true character is revealed in His equal love for all. Israel’s Abrahamic economy was built entirely around the idea that no one needs to be poor. And yet, in our culture, the gap between the haves and have‐nots is widening every year. The middle class is gone, and all that’s left are those who have and those who don’t.

Do I need to go through The Book and point out what’s written about dealing with strangers, foreigners, or visitors? And yet, these commands are set aside each time someone complains about immigrants. Are these instructions written for those who don’t believe? No, so how can I possibly be criticized for saying that God is judging the church? And, the cultural “sins” against which they pray and involve themselves politically are of little interest to God compared to His command to love Him and our neighbors.

None of this is the responsibility of those outside the church, for only those who “know” the commandments can be guilty of violating them. So, if God is judging behavior in the culture, that judgment is for the church, because these “transgressions” are only considered so by the church. Therefore, judgment, the good book says, “begins at the house of God.” And for Christians especially, the kinds of “sins” they complain about aren’t any of their business anyway. What part of “neighbor as yourself” is found in the hatred expressed over the last several years towards those “neighbors” in the soiling of our precious country? Until we — perhaps for the first time as a people — start doing what God/Life wants, I will never cease in my view that “God is judging the church.” Here’s an example:

My old boss Pat Robertson went ballistic on the air the other day over the idea of cross dressers reading stories to children at a local library as a part of the “Drag Queen Story Hour” program. Pay attention to not only what he says but to the absolute disgust with which he says it. When this kind of stuff is expressed to a large audience, it moves the thinking of that audience to matters that are political, petty, and therefore trivial to Life itself. It makes people mad and inspires them to DO SOMETHING, which is exactly the core mission of the one shouting the complaint.

“This next story should shock the daylights out of you and you ought to do something about it,” Robertson vented. “It’s an outrage. Little teeny children as young as two years‐old being exposed (to) cross‐dressers, homosexuals who dress up as women and are called so‐called drag queens … They’re men acting like women—and they used to, out in San Fransciso, used to call them ‘he-shes’—and they’re reading books to children.”

“You’d better get outraged about this,” he added.

“If you read the Bible, there were a couple of cities where they actually, the men tried to have sex with angels who were then as male figures and God destroyed those cities,” Robertson said following the segment. “The crime was called, subsequent to that, it was called sodomy. This whole thing is just an outrage. It’s an affront in the eyes of God and I think that’s what we’re trying to do is stick our fingers in God’s eyes and say, ‘Okay Lord, you thought you were making people men and women … but we’re going to fix it so that we’re going to confuse the sexes, we’re going to confuse everything that you’re doing and then, if we have offspring as a result of our sexual activity out of marriage, we’re going to kill the offspring and we’ll stick our fingers in your eye to show you who’s boss.’”

“The United States of America is on very slippery ground,” he warned. “How is (God) going to bless America if we put our finger in his eyes repeatedly? And that’s what we’re doing. It’s not just some library that is going to be in trouble, it’s the whole population when God brings judgment.”

Folks, God IS bringing judgment. Right now. Today. On the church, the very people Pat Robertson represents atop the pedestal of his own righteousness. God is not going to “bring judgment” against the United State, because, honestly, what does He have to do with it anyway? America isn’t God’s church. Never has been; never will be. God doesn’t judge outsiders; He judges those who profess allegiance to Him. Think of it this way. If the church was actually doing its job, do you really think we would have all these social issues that dominate our lives and the lives of our friends and neighbors? As long as we embrace a gospel of self that emphasizes what’s good for us, our families, our friends, and our neighborhoods, we will always find fault with those who seem a threat to our comfort. This is the sad state of the Christianity practiced by “the church” under judgment. Is that you? Think carefully and prayerfully, for there’s more at stake for you than you might imagine.

Moreover — and this is what’s truly galling — the Bible does NOT say that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah over homosexuality. Ezekiel wrote that God destroyed Sodom for its self‐comfort and lack of concern for the poor and needy, exactly as we have become today. Ezekiel 16:49–50:

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (NIV)

As I wrote in my book about my time with Pat Robertson, he’s a politician who happens to be a minister, not the other way around. As such, politics flows through every fiber of his being, and we see that reflected above. Pat’s audience is filled with grandparents. So is his donor base. Anything that appears to threaten the wellbeing of children is therefore a serious hot button to pursue. And what better straw man at which to point than homosexuals. It’s no coincidence that one of the things people can do with the outrage he describes is to give to CBN or maybe Republicans. In this sense, everything that comes out of his mouth is designed to tweak the consciences of those who support the work of CBN. In 1984, we raised $248 million in contributions by following this formula, and as long as the name Robertson is what makes the CBN ministry tick, viewers will be manipulated in this way.

I genuinely feel sorry for those who are caught up in this unawares, because they will not be held blameless in the midst of God’s judgment. Support Donald Trump, therefore, at your own peril, for we are playing the harlot with the oppressors, and God is nowhere near any of it.

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

The “We Know Better” Bubble

“I know better than you” is a mother’s claim that ends many an argument with her 5‐year old, but it becomes problematic when used among adults to obtain a position of authority absent evidence. It’s a tool that political and cultural manipulators also use to get their way, citing some unknowable form of knowledge to claim victory in a debate. It’s never all that obvious, however, for it can be hidden from the view of spectators while communicated directly to followers who’ve been led to believe that they’re in on the secret.

This is not necessarily the case with Christians and Christianity, for who doesn’t like to claim a little insight that the other guy doesn’t possess? It can be omnipresent, however, in arguments involving the church, like whether or not church attendance is a prerequisite for righteous living. In a recent essay in Christianity Today, Megan Hill adapted her work from the book Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of our Identity in Christ in a piece that cites “Four Lies That Keep Us from Church.”

Though the world would tell us that church is an option, an irrelevance, or a human invention—a group of people who thought it would be a good idea to get together since they share the same beliefs and spiritual practices—we know better. The body is established by Christ, protected and nourished by him, and governed by him.

A great many Christians live in this “we know better” bubble, which is afforded them by separation from the enemy they know as “the world.” The bubble is a truly remarkable place in that “we know better” governs absolutely, and it’s one of the key reasons we have Donald Trump as our President. Those who live in the bubble have their own rules — both written and unwritten — their own language, their own worship, the Bible to support every expression of faith, self‐restriction of the senses, and “fruit of the spirit” to validate their presence “in” Christ. But the most politically significant trait of the bubble is that “we know better” means a willingness — perhaps even a need — to deny logic and rationality in the name of claiming a higher authority.

Thomas Paine, the 18th Century philosopher and pamphleteer, whose writing bolstered the American Revolution, noted this phenomenon in his series, The American Crisis, and it’s as apropos today as it was when it was written:

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”

This is why attempts to reach the occupants of the “we know better” bubble about the Trump Presidency produces such a vociferous and strident defense that includes a comparison to the ancient Babylonian king Cyrus, who though corrupt and an unbeliever, permitted the Jews in captivity to return to Jerusalem. God used him, the bubble thinking goes, to give favor to the Jews regardless of his status as a reprobate. And, in this theorem, nothing of Donald Trump’s behavior matters; it’s all about the favor he’s showing to white evangelicals. Such is the fruit of “we know better.”

But the biggest concern we all should have with the “we know better” bubble is the ease with which ulterior motives (usually of a self‐serving nature) can be used to guide and manipulate the people who fully trust the bubble. The real and artificial podiums found within speak (down) to the masses with an authority that insists it’s alright — sometimes even necessary — to deny common sense.

We used this every day at The 700 Club when I was the show’s producer in the years leading up to Pat Robertson’s run for President in 1988. The revival ushered in by the Televangelists in the early 80s was in part due to this bubble, for when we acted as though God Himself was blessing us, it was a powerful draw for new members. We’d just come out of the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the failure that was Jimmy Carter. People were hungry for something meaningful, and Reagan and the Televangelists provided it. What nobody knew at the time was that this attraction was based on the self‐centered desires of the masses. It’s so easy to switch the Bible into a self‐help manual, and that’s what we did. Pat Robertson was an aristocratic politician first and a minister of the gospel second, and it was just a matter of time before the GOP altogether was shifted to the far right under his puppetry. We set and prioritized the agenda for the right. Pat always knew and expressed that “Christians” could be turned into a valuable voting block, largely through manipulating the “we know better” bubble.

And, we were really, really good at it. The greatest communications accomplishment of the Twentieth Century was to get Christians to vote against their own best interests and in favor of the rich and prosperous. We painted them as of the same ilk; told them that God wanted them blessed and prospered; taught that they could save themselves and their families by voting Republican; and showed them a path that ran right through giving to the ministry of CBN. This web of desirable outcomes was compliments of the “we know better” bubble. Just listen to us and learn God’s ways, we postured. The world may hate you for it — personally, professionally, and politically — but fret not, for God is with you. “They” think they know it all, but we know better.

In debate parlance, “we know better” is an unacceptable and weak response designed to thwart an opponent’s argument. It’s an appeal to tradition or faith in order to shut down the adversary’s narrative. It’s a response that’s really not a response, similar to a street argument that ends with the flummoxed loser’s comeback of, “Well, oh yeah?”

Of a truth, the church and the study of theology, through the process of exegesis, relies on certain conclusions within the sphere of “we know better,” so it’s not that the concept is inherently evil. When institutions of mankind run into difficult questions, they’re often met with a variant of “we know better,” so the idea is fairly mainstream in the West. But, I’m speaking of those Christians who use the bubble for selfish gain, and such a heresy can only be judged from within. This is why I’ve been saying for years that God isn’t judging the world today; He’s judging believers and the institution that represents them. And, it’s really not very pretty.

Those Christians who rely on the bubble to defend their political beliefs and their Christianity will never be convinced otherwise by an opponent from outside the bubble, for that would be a fundamental denial of the bubble’s purpose. It’s the perfect manipulator’s tool. To those on the outside: “Well, they’re of the world, so their eyes are deliberately blinded. After all, God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” To those who call themselves Christians but don’t abide by the rules of the bubble: “Well, they’re not true Christians. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, and we are to run from them.” These are actual responses, so the futility of arguing directly is obvious.

However, there are some within the bubble who are quietly expressing their concern, and it’s to those that we must offer our encouragement, for they are the only ones with the chops to make a difference from the inside. I can only hope that they will be emboldened by reading this and the work of others who rail against manipulation of the bubble.

It’s a heady thing to think of yourself as among “the elect,” the promise from the pulpit that fuels the “we know better” bubble. The only way to arrive at this conclusion, however, is to deny the red words of the New Testament, and that, I believe, is to also deny the very essence of the gospel.

You may think otherwise, but I know better.

Trump’s “Fake News” Insult is a Steaming Pile of Bullshit

President Trump and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger butted heads over the weekend on the matter of “fake news” and public references by the President calling journalists “the enemy of the people.” Sulzberger made his points via a statement after Trump broke the off‐the‐record agreement he had made with Sulzberger following a July 20 private meeting on the issue. Using his Twitter account, Trump spoke of the meeting while again attacking the press. This prompted a reply from Sulzberger:

“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’ ” Sulzberger said. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

This apparently angered Trump who went on to assail journalists and — as NPR put it — “dismissing them as unpatriotic and irresponsible.”

Needless to say, this has become a very ugly, nasty, and highly dangerous dispute, if for no other reason than it shifts press focus away from the bigger issues impacting everyone one in America under the anti‐leadership of this slick and manipulative salesman that we put in office. But, perhaps that’s his purpose in this whole charade anyway.

So, let’s try this again. There is not now, nor has there ever been a liberal political bias as part of the mainstream news media. I’ve had people actually laugh in my face when making this claim, but my evidence is conclusive. It’s just that some people shut down when they hear it, because they are so absolutely convinced of the opposite. And this belief is nothing new. Remember that Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew said the exact things we’re hearing today coming from the right, yet people examining media history today would hardly view Walter Cronkite as a flaming liberal. The problem Agnew had was that he had no media outlet to back him up, except perhaps William F. Buckley’s National Review.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propagandist.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s make a distinction between the words “news” and “politics.” While it’s true that the discussion of political matters may be a necessary part of the news, it does not follow that the news business IS a political instrument. This is the fallacy that has clouded our judgment in the arguments over what is and is not “fake news.” When our President uses the term to tag the mainstream press, he is bearing a false witness and demeaning an institution that needs, instead, our protection. This is the nut of it.

I’m one of the people who helped originate the concept of non‐liberal‐biased TV news by calling it conservative and including conservative political arguments. But this strategy is based on the assumption that the mainstream is, in fact, political, and that is simply not true. Hence, the best we could rightly claim is that we were feeding viewers the kinds of propaganda that we claimed that liberals were doing with the mainstream press. Do you see the inherent conflict in the argument? From the manual on manipulation, The Thinker’s Guide To Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation, this tactic is Dirty Trick number one: Accuse Your Opponent of Doing What He is Accusing You of (or worse).

And yet, those convinced of this fallacy LAUGH at me. I spoke to a group of such people in Colorado last year, and when I started talking about this, they ended the meeting through their astonishment, mockery, and disdain, choosing instead to bring their Christianity into the discussion. I suppose I deserved this by presuming the right to challenge their beliefs directly, but the current political situation in our country demands honesty and open‐mindedness in our thoughts and speech, regardless of what anybody thinks.

One must be a fringe conspiracy theorist to actually believe that “the Democrats” are somehow behind the actions of the press. This is absurd on its face, and to argue it is a waste of everybody’s time. It gets traction, however, because it’s said so often, and it fits so well with the grand narrative of the political right. The suggestion likewise that the press might instead be behind the Democrats’ thinking is even more absurd, and yet this is the position into which we are forced by those who have a beef with the progressive culture.

The press does not speak on behalf of the culture; it speaks to the culture. It speaks about what is NEW. That’s why it’s called “the news!” If the culture is moving in a progressive manner, of course we’ll hear about it from the press (and we do), but that doesn’t mean there’s anything of a political (read: manipulative) nature behind it. The press isn’t dictating to the culture how it believes the culture should behave. Of course, the press does provide the editorial page as a separate entity and includes letters to the editor, but this isn’t what Trump is talking about.

The culture doesn’t decide anything based on the news that the press provides. If anything, in providing its observations, the press gives the culture information upon which it can make its own political decisions. If one doesn’t like the current culture, they have every right to resist and object, but it accomplishes exactly nothing to shout “liberal conspiracy” at the messengers. Except, that is, to demonize the press as a political opponent. It is not.

Dog bites man, it’s not news. Man bites dog, it is news. To accuse the messenger of bias in this account is like saying, “Why is the press reporting on these idiots who bite dogs?” or “Oh, Lord, let us please go back to the time when men didn’t bite dogs.” In this sense, so‐called “conservative” news isn’t really news; it’s “olds.” I say so‐called, because news that is birthed of a political purpose (that’s what we have when we say that this news or that news is “conservative”) is actually propaganda, the kind of which is calculating and deliberate.

And there is nothing righteous about a society that’s built around a backbone of propaganda.

It’s time for the press to notice Israel

I’ve been asked a hundred times how Christians — specifically white evangelicals — can support a corrupt, racist, lying President who doesn’t appear to be even close to qualified for the office, a man who is cozying up to our enemies while destroying the characteristics that made America great in the first place. It’s a tough and complex question, but the behaviors described above just aren’t important when it comes to the Christians’ political agenda. They want Roe v Wade overturned, religious liberty (that borders on license) in all areas of life, and support for Israel expanded. In Trump the President, they’re getting exactly what they want.

While the country and the American press focus on the President’s misdeeds, fake news claims, morality, and especially his relationship with Russia, Israel’s far right wing radical Zionists — headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — have taken a giant step forward in seizing title to the entirety of the Holy Land. This includes rapid settlement development not only in the West Bank but also East Jerusalem, the home of Trump’s new American embassy. Moreover, the President’s tweet threatening the nuclear annihilation of Iran is directed more at boosting Israel than protecting any of America’s interests in the region. All of this sits amazingly well with Trump’s base support — the white evangelical Christians — who care nothing about the legality or morality of Israel’s behavior, only that it’s all a prelude to what they believe is the imminent return of Jesus Christ and what they believe is his thousand year reign of peace.

Tourism is absolutely booming in Israel with Trump supporters wanting to see the sacred Biblical sites but also activity in the West Bank and especially Jerusalem, where in their view Armageddon will begin. Israel’s economy is also booming, especially in the technology sector where Tel Aviv ranks fourth globally. It’s great to be an Israeli zealot in the era of Donald Trump. It’s also great time to be a fundamentalist end‐times Christian, because (with a little help from them) an alliance between Gog and Magog (Russia), Gomer and Togarmah (Turkey), and Persia (Iran) is forming. These people believe this alliance will come against Israel, and that will usher in the return of Jesus. I’m serious. Support of Donald Trump is support of this foolishness, but it’s not without consequence.

Life for Palestinian Arabs in the area just keeps getting worse and worse, and this, too, escapes the view of the American press, because they’ve got seemingly bigger issues to watch at home. Israel commits horrible atrocities regularly and with impunity, because that’s the nature of U.S. support under the Trump administration. At least the State Department under Barack Obama would loudly object each time settlement extremists reached further into territory that doesn’t belong to them. These acts are illegal under international law, but that is irrelevant absent enforcement, and Netanyahu knows this. The settlements in the West Bank are especially troublesome, because the latest are splitting the land still occupied by Arabs into two pieces, which will make it easier to take it all. Building in Jerusalem is squeezing out land that used to belong to Palestinians. The resulting squalor and isolation the Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank are left to live in is worse than anyone in the West can imagine.

While Israel points to the incompetence of Hamas in Gaza, it is Israel that provides the real government there. Utilities are provided by Israel, which means cutting electricity and water is easy. In the West Bank, water goes to the settlements, not the Arabs who legally live there. Israel rations water and electricity supplies to Gaza, including electricity than powers sewage treatment. The whole idea is to make life so miserable for Arabs that they will flee or bow to so‐called “negotiations” wherein they will be subjugated as a permanent minority.

The U.S. gives $10 million each and every day to support Israel’s “democracy,” while President Trump is cutting aid to Palestinians that goes to fund, among other things, medical clinics in Gaza. As Mondoweiss reports, these clinics are beginning to close:

Since January, US financing for humanitarian programmes serving the Palestinians has been suspended, with Washington saying it is being reviewed. President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to force the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with Israel.

When Arab groups of especially young people object to not only the occupation but also to the living conditions they are required to endure, Israeli Defense Force snipers shoot to kill, celebrating when a protester falls with a bullet to the chest or head from long range. Israeli claims of being forced to defend itself become the automatic operating narrative, which provides appropriate justification for any atrocity while the world sits by and watches. This narrative positions all threats as existential, because the country is surrounded by nations who mostly object to their presence in the region. This would be believable, if it were true, but Israel has the military capability to absolutely overwhelm any enemy that might come against it, which makes Israel’s power the only existential threat in the entire Middle East. To the rest of the world, however, Israel presents itself as a helpless and isolated potential victim of rampant anti‐semitism it faces each and every day. Bearing the banner of the Holocaust and a standard that says “Never Again,” Israel gets a pass no matter what crime it commits against humanity. This demands our truthful examination.

Even something as seemingly innocent as the construction of a museum in Jerusalem carries the stench of manipulation and expansion purpose. Simon Wiesenthal’s Museum of Tolerance is being built in East Jerusalem to open next year. It is incredibly controversial, however, as described in the Architecture publication Inexhibit:

The … problem is the presence of a highly regarded Muslim historic cemetery (known as Mamilla Cemetery) within the building site; therefore the construction of a relatively large building in a sacred burial site – with all which it implies, including excavations and removal of tombs, has been considered offensive and an “act of colonialism” by many Palestinians and by the Muslim religious authorities, who consider the museum actually just a part of a larger strategy aimed to physically and culturally remove Palestine from Jerusalem.

When Christians look at Israel — even through their own tours — they see the land of milk and honey promised by God to the Jews, a lush oasis of plenty on the desert seacoast where American‐style avarice demands protection from envious neighbors. They see this as God in action in modern times, a narrative that impacts each of them individually through its links to Bible prophecy and the absolute surety with which they view their version of the faith.

I often wander down the path of the God of my understanding to ponder what He must be thinking as all of this unfolds. This whole business pits regional politics against Life, and, as Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic World says, “Life always finds a way.”

My admonition to the white evangelicals — many of whom are my brothers and sisters in the Lord — is this: Make sure that your own house is in order before you throw stones at others, especially in the Middle East, for all is definitely not as it seems.