September 29, 2009

 

A New Leader of the Free World?

I didn’t say it - Mark Levin did - “we have a new leader of the free world - Benjamin Netanyahu.” Levin’s remarks were based on Netanyahu’s UN speech as contrasted with those of other “world leaders” including President Obama. Obama spoke about “climate change” issuing dire warnings of impending disaster if the world doesn’t act together to save itself. Many authorities - whose thoughts are not being publicized by the establishment media, which is in the tank for Obama - believe “global warming” to be a bogus issue driven by wacko thinking. I share that opinion.

            Netanyahu’s outstanding speech is contrasted with the incoherent rantings of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, who rambled on for 90 minutes, causing his translator to pass out and be replaced part way through the discourse. During his interminable time at the microphone, Gaddafi ripped up a copy of the UN charter; referred to the Security Council as a “terrorism council”; rejected a two-state solution for the Palestinians and suggested a life term for President Obama - a “Kenyan.” The allotted 15-minutes would have been too much.

            Then there was the religious zealotry of the President of Iran - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We’ve heard his fiery rants before. His speech was basically an evangelistic sermon on behalf of his version of Islam. In the past and recently, Ahmadinejad has denied the reality of the Holocaust in which some six million Jews were murdered by Hitler & Co. simply for being Jews. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel took him on, “Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.” Netanyahu then offered hard evidence that the Holocaust had indeed occurred (not that it should have been necessary).

            Netanyahu issued a warning to other nations as well: “Perhaps you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong. History has shown us time and time again that what starts as attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing others.” The Israeli PM focused on the issue behind the issues: “…the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction, and the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

            Netanyahu, capturing and holding the high moral ground, lit into the fanatical leaders of Iran and the general impotence of a morally bankrupt UN. He showed clearly the injustice of the world body in its failure to condemn the endless attacks on Israel’s cities by Hamas. The whole speech was worthy of study and retention. If you Google “Benjamin Netanyahu UN Speech Full Text Transcript, Sep 24, 2009,” you can print out the entire speech. It’s well worth the effort.        

            In my opinion, Benjamin Netanyahu is a great man - the greatest on the world scene today. Paul Johnson, the British historian, says of Netanyahu, “Far from being the ‘bigoted right winger’ described in the Western press, Netanyahu is exceptionally bright and superbly well informed and has an open and flexible mind…Netanyahu comes from a distinguished family of intellectuals and men of action,” Forbes, August 24, 2009, p.17.

            Among the actions the PM may be called upon to perform will be the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities. As Johnson writes, “If the prime minister does give the go-ahead for a strike against Iran, I’m sure it will be a meticulously prepared plan carried out with utmost efficiency -- and that its diplomatic, political and military consequences will have been carefully thought out” (ibid.). 

            Benjamin Netanyahu carries on his shoulders the survival of his Israeli people. In his book, A Place Among the Nations (1993), the PM cites former PM Golda Meir who addressed the idea of international guarantees for the safety of Israel: “By the time they come to save Israel, there won’t be an Israel,” (p. 343). It is clear that the UN will do nothing to save tiny Israel from its enemies. It is also uncertain that the US, under the dovish Obama, will rush to her aid. Israel is on her own. Says Netanyahu, “Israel’s defenses therefore must be entrusted to its own forces, which are willing and able to act in real time against an imminent invasion or attack,” (ibid.).

            The final words of Netanyahu’s 1993 book ring down through the years: “The rebirth of Israel is…one of humanity’s great parables. It is the story not only of the Jews but of a human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors. It is the incomparable quest of a people seeking, at the end of an unending march, to assume its rightful place among the nations,” (ibid. p. 401). --Brian Knowles

           

July 10, 2009

 

Success is uncertain; Misfortune common but unpredictable; Justice and fairness often illusionary
The Sage who wrote Ecclesiastes offered a timeless wisdom that finds daily application to the living. Murderers get away with murder, evil swindlers get rich, crooked politicians lie, prosper and get re-elected, good people suffer, and truth is absent from the public square. Fools cry and wail over the death of a degenerate pop star and gush over his magnificent gifts to humanity, true heroes are forgotten, hundreds of thousands of hard-working people lose jobs and houses in a government managed recession, good people and their good deeds are ignored while purveyors of filth are honored and made rich.  This isn't the entire picture of the world around us, of course, but it takes up far too much of the screen. The Sage wrote:

I have seen something else under the sun:

The race is not to the swift

or the battle to the strong,

nor does food come to the wise

or wealth to the brilliant

or favor to the learned;

but time and chance happen to them all.

Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,

or birds are taken in a snare,

so men are trapped by evil times

that fall unexpectedly upon them.

(Ecc 9:11-12)

 

Can a people forget how they came to be delivered and blessed? Can a people forget the foundational values that made them a great nation? Can a people forget the wisdom that gave them birth and prosperity? Perhaps our Sage can answer those questions:

 

I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:

There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, "Wisdom is better than strength." But the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

(vss 13-16)

 

We can surmise that the next time trouble came to that city it would not be saved. Our Sage concludes with words so fresh it is as if he had been reading our newspapers and listening to watching our media. The loudness comes from fools and it drowns out the quiet words of the wise--the very wisdom that could save a nation.

 

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

Wisdom is better than weapons of war,

but one sinner destroys much good.

(vss 17-18)

 

The future will be uneven as has been the past, but our attitudes and actions do directly affect the future--personally and nationally. Wise actions bring better results, but in a world where the dynamic of time and chance still prevails. We have a hand in making our own future, for God has made us free to chose. The future is not predestined in any detailed sense, but remains open for us to chose. God knows what his ultimate plans are, but does not take away our freedom by exhaustively predestinating how everything goes in our lives. I believe the Preacher-Sage of Ecclesiastes understood that.  --Ken Westby

 

June 23, 2009

 

Hope of a Godly Sort 

Threatening times can make one anxious. We like stasis, stability, security. We don’t like uncertainty, which presently clouds the future for the USA and the world. We want to be secure that things will stay basically the same and gradually get better. This view allows for optimism. Yet, it is difficult to be optimistic in the deteriorating economic, cultural, and geopolitical environment of 2009.  The empty "hope" mantra of the past political campaign is just marketing air, stale air at that. Since there was no substance to the style there are no good results to justify such charisma-centered hope. Those who have thrown away the cheap rose colored classes handed out for votes now see the reality of the ship of state being commanded by inexperienced, unqualified, unwise hacks, and blind ones too.  Such a fix is beginning to cause an out-flowing of despair that may soon turn into a flood. Perhaps we should look beyond the present to a greater reality. Cheap hope is but a fairy wish, not hope of the Godly sort.  

 

Godly hope is an antidote to despair. There are always reasons available to induce feelings of despair, but God gives us better reasons to have hope. Hope is positive and is sandwiched between faith and love in Paul’s famous triad of Godly attributes (1 Cor 13).

 

Hope is based on God’s promise, inseparable from his power to create the future and give hope. Hope means trust in the good that God has promised and provided.  It is deeply rooted in confidence in God’s providence. Hope is related to the good God has given to us and is sure to give us in the future. Hope is a spiritual world view that we as answering, responsible, and acting human beings live within. God is the God of hope (Rom 15:13) and he wants us to “overflow with hope” as he will never forsake us, but deliver us into his eternal kingdom. To cling to God’s faithfulness means to receive hope. Godly hope stands above and beyond circumstances.

 

Self-centeredness is a hopeless circle of chasing a future that always stays out of reach. How is that different from our hope in a future with God? Abraham found the answer when God invited him to step outside his tent one starry night (Gen 15:5-6).  Yahweh said,  “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able...so shall your descendants be.” God asked Abraham to join him within His reality, with all the incalculable wonder and mystery of God’s handiwork. Abraham saw the stars as uncountable as the sand along the seashore. He didn’t know how God would do what he said, but he knew God could, and he believed.

 

Abraham learned to hope in a silent way as he savored the reality of being known by the Creator of everything. The maker and counter of stars had made him promises that now seemed to justify unqualified hope. The apostle Paul read this story as a case of “hope against hope” (Rom 4:17). “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”  Others may not see why we God-fearers can be hopeful even in circumstances that crush the kind of hope not founded in God. But we are hopeful because God has stepped into our lives and has already raised his Son to ever-lasting life—and has promised to do the same for us. The fog of life’s uncertainty is lifting and God has given us glimpses of his will and purpose, which give us hope.  --Ken Westby

 

 

June 1, 2009

 

Forty-five Years Married!
Today, JoAn and I celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. We will "celebrate" it tonight by going to our granddaughter Megan's school musical program. She is eleven, plays the flute and just last week won second place in a school science fair. Her project had to do with something about which type of potato chips were most greasy. Our four children have blessed us with eight other grandchildren just as interesting as Megan.

 

Marriage is a friendly partnership intended to cure human loneliness and to provide a warm and protective place to grow a family. That is the created ideal. Sadly, it is not always realized and my heart hurts for those who have missed the joys that God intended marriage to provide. I remember advising my daughters to look for a man who is kind. Kindness is a leading trait of God's nature (See Jeremiah 9:24) and living with a kind person is pleasant. A lot of faults can be overlooked in the face of a heart of kindness. Kind people have learned to exercise control over their selfishness in favor of giving to others. God blessed me with a very kind and generous bride which has made living together comfortable, pleasant, secure and fun.

 

The big destroyer of marital bliss is human selfishness. Having counseled thousands of couples over the decades one learns the simple principles that make some marriages work and others fail. Two major things that stand out to me as marriage killers are weak commitment to the institution of marriage and selfishness. If each partner has a strong commitment to marriage and take their vows seriously, they can work through virtually all problems that come up. Love will come in and at times, like the tide, it goes out, but if the commitment is there, the marriage will continue, and sure enough the tide of love will return. Rather than bail out, commitment makes one look to change what needs to be changed to make the marriage work. If one partner has a strong commitment to marriage and the other does not, any problem, even small ones can cause the union to fracture. Advice to prospective marriage couples: make sure your lover shares a powerfully strong commitment to staying married and making it work even in the face of trials and temptations. If the deal is: I'll stay married to you as long as I'm "happy" and "satisfied" and "fulfilled" and "in love." -- It may be a bad deal.

 

Marriage is a contract made before God, whether acknowledged or not, requiring a robust commitment to keep it regardless of feelings, emotions, and satisfactions which by nature ebb and flow. Selfishness destroys as it puts individual satisfaction before the marriage union itself. Mutual submission to the happiness of the other requires a degree of self-less-ness--less of self concern and more concern for the other. True marital love is loving your mate with the same care and concern you afford yourself. Not always easy given our natural "me first" nature, but the payoff is many times the investment.

 

JoAn and I have had a life of great adventure, plenty of trials, many more successes, an abundance of joys and blessings, and of romance and love. Most satisfying is simply the friendship, the partnership. That is something that can also be said of our friendship and partnership with God.   --Ken Westby

 

May 29, 2009

Half of Arrested Men Test Positive for Drugs
Illegal drugs finance huge nation-threatening drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia - along with other countries in the region. Afghanistan and Lebanon are known for growing drug-producing crops that finance terrorists. The more prosperous nations are, in effect, funding their own potential demise at the hands of thugs and terrorists. In 2006, 1,376, 792 people were arrested in the US on drug abuse violations. This morning, /USA Today /published an article citing a new study that revealed that half the men arrested in 10 US cities tested positive for drugs. That's the average.

In cities like Chicago, the figure was 87%. In California's capital, Sacramento, the number was 78%. In 40% of the cases in Chicago, more than one drug was involved. In Atlanta, Georgia, cocaine was the most prevalent drug, methamphetamine was big on the West Coast. Marijuana was found in most cases, along with other drugs. Heroin was also found in 29% of those arrested in Chicago. Interestingly, Los Angeles and San Francisco were not included in the study. 

The use of illegal drugs is a major social problem in the US.  It drives deadly multi-billion dollar drug operations around the world. The US is the world's biggest consumer of such substances. The findings showed a "clear link between drugs and crime" - not an altogether new finding but one that has been made many times in the past.

What can be done? Some suggest that legalizing drugs is the solution.

Others want tougher laws against manufacturers, dealers and users. One thing is certain: drug addicts need treatment more than they need punishment. With producers and dealers, it's another matter. The study recommended that federal resources be shifted from police and incarceration to treatment. Makes sense. Change the cause - drug addiction - and you change the effect - the massive drug industry that is corrupting and killing people at all levels of society. --Brian Knowles (Sources: /2008 World Almanac /& /USA Today, /5/29/09)

 

 

March 26, 2009

 

Children Rule?

It's worse than "the inmates are running the asylum"--we have children are running America! Grown people with childish ideas. Our newly elected leader and his party see the world through a different lens. They have the childish idea that all the world's problems are basically misunderstandings. With negotiations and talk--lots of talk--these problems between nations can be ironed out. There aren't "evil" nations, just nations that have been misunderstood, or who have been marginalized or pushed around by bully nations such as the USA. Tear down the bully nations and those other nations mislabeled "evil" will be peaceful and cease causing trouble. We don't confront evil, we seek to understand it. It could be that the real evil isn't the murderer, but the victim who somehow provoked the killer to kill.

 

I'm reminded of the silly fellow who went into the wild to live with the grizzlies. His approach was just as childish. He believed that if one respected the grizzly bear and yielded space to him, did not threaten him, and did good things for him, the grizzly would respond favorably. He thought he was so smart he could reset the nature of a wild and potentially vicious beast. He was so confident in his enlightened and superior wisdom he wanted to film the whole grizzly story for the world to see his smartness. Well, predictably, without provocation, the grizzly did what bears often do, it attacked and ate the childish adult. End of film.

 

We have an elite bunch of liberal politicians with a skewed view of human nature setting about to remake society. Their view is that human nature is basically good and if it errs in wrong directions it is usually the result of ignorance, cultural conditioning, religion with its teachings of sin, good and evil. The individual is not at fault, society is. The solution is to reengineer society around new politically correct values, overthrow traditional conservative and religious values, and the brave new world is upon us. For a view of what that world will be like read George Orwell's book 1984. We must trust the "Big Brother" elites to know what is best for us idiots who belong in the masses. They will lead and we will follow...or else.

 

The truth is, human nature is not basically good or basically evil. It can be a mixture of both. The point is, humans have free will and the ability to chose what they do and are to be held responsible for what they chose. We have the ability to chose to do good or to do evil. How we make choices depends on our character which has been formed through knowledge, education, and experience. The prime institutions traditionally responsible for forming good character and good citizens are the nuclear family, the church, an orderly society that reflects the standards of right and wrong as taught in family and church, and societal laws that shame and punish bad behavior. The self-appointed elite have been waging war against those good-character forming institutions for almost a century. The sad results are everywhere to be seen, yet the social experiment goes on. Their wisdom says, we don't need God, we need government...their government with them playing God. --Ken Westby

 

 

February 25, 2009

 

Christianity Is Not Idealistic
In the usual sense of the term, Christianity is not idealistic and does not anticipate the development, on earth, of universal and voluntary harmony. Christianity is utopian in the biblical sense that God will bring his kingdom and rule to earth at some future time. We are not there yet. Biblical faith is nearer to Machiavellism than to idealism. Machiavelli maintained that the pride and selfishness of human beings naturally give rise to disorder and that disorder requires the remedy of power.  Niccolo Machiavelli, as you probably remember from your college studies, authored The Prince (1513 AD) which has become a handbook for worldly power politics. He was a pragmatist who dealt with the reality of the human condition and the quest for power.1469-1527). He was a scheming political thinker, writer, and historian, and also military thinker. His book Art of War is a studied classic of realpolitik.

 

Since civilization depends on order, and order on power, there can be no civilization without power. Such views are fully in accord with biblical principles. If power is pervasive in human affairs, government is a necessary institution. True Christianity and anarchy don't mix (see the Apostle Paul's general statements on the role of government in Romans 13:1-7). Christians do not deny that governments ordinarily are evil--deceptive, selfish, arrogant--and often atrocious; but they are indispensable. Man should strive to keep government limited by constitutional restraints subject to popular consent, but there have been few successful examples of that until the American experiment of 1776. It, and those nations that copied the American Republic, are far from perfect and must be carefully maintained, else things could degenerate to living under centralized power, which usually drifts downhill to tyranny.

 

God is under no illusions, and neither should we be, that man knows or can find the way to universal world peace. Evil is too deeply part of the human condition and there are evil forces at play beyond the human sphere. Until those two facts are faced and dealt with, violence, oppression, war and suffering will continue to plague our world. It is precisely in these two demensions the coming Kingdom of God will do battle and win. Utopia--world peace--is something God must bring to earth. We can have such peace now in our family and among our friends and associates if we submit to God's rule and live by his commandments and his love. We need not wait for God's kingdom to come to earth to enjoy the some of the most important fruits of it right now.

 

God is a realist and knows how man operates. The psalmist declares of men, "The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths' (Ps 59:8). But God's motivation and means are not Machiavellian. He need not seek power; he has power. His motivation is love for his beloved creation made in his image. He will neutralize Satanic forces and as a loving Father appeal to man to repent of his selfish, destructive ways and use his freewill to embrace the pureness and goodness of God's Way. We pray: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in the heavens." Our desire for Christian idealism will be realized through the love and power of God. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.  --Ken Westby

  • irthplace: Florence, Italy
  • Died: 22 June 1527
  • Best Known As: Author of The Prince

 

February 17, 2009

 

Medical Care – Where is it headed?

Recently, a 69-year old Tokyo man injured in a traffic accident was turned away from 14 hospitals.  He was finally admitted to one, in which he died. Had he been admitted earlier, he could have been saved. The rejecting hospitals cited a lack of beds, equipment, specialists and staff as reasons for turning away the hapless patient. In Japan, hospitals cannot be penalized for turning away a patient if they are already full.

 

According to an Associated Press article, “More than 14,000 emergency patients were rejected at least three times by Japanese hospitals before getting treatment in 2007…in the worst case, a woman in her 70’s with a breathing problem was rejected 49 times in Tokyo.”

 

Japan’s experience may soon become our own. In recent years six hospitals in or near our own city have closed their doors, citing financial difficulties.  You may be aware of similar closures in your own area. Such closures increase the patient load on other hospitals in the area.  The population is growing while the number of available hospitals is shrinking. We have also heard of hospitals refusing to accept what HMO’s are willing to pay for certain procedures.

 

In addition, a diminishing number of medical students are opting for general practice (the gate-keeper doctors in HMO’s).  Specialists earn more money. The ever-swelling cost of malpractice insurance is also a factor in discouraging doctors from practicing.

 

The Obama Administration is seeking to implement a national government-run health care program that will cover everyone – including the 47 million currently uninsured.  Without a corresponding increase in the number of doctors and health care professionals, this can only lead to one thing – rationing and the rejection of certain classes of patients. A shortage of hospitals will lead to the same problems Japan is having. It’s a matter of doing the math.

 

The math also includes the burgeoning costs of healthcare.  Both Medicare and Medicaid represent looming crises. Add to this a monstrous national health care program funded by already hard-pressed taxpayers and you have a prescription for disaster.

 

The onrushing disaster includes a potential deterioration in the quality of care. If politicians and bureaucrats begin making medical decisions, we’re in deep doo-doo.  It’s bad enough that accountants and HMO execs are already involved. In short the future of health care in our increasingly socialistic society looks bleak. What to do?

 

Perhaps one solution lies in taking better care of our health – preventive medicine: regular exercise; lots of fresh organic food emphasizing fruit and vegetables; maintaining a healthy weight; an upbeat mental attitude; quality sleep and above all trusting God to be our healer.

 

Chances are, none of us can fully escape illness and disease. Even the great prophet Elisha died of a sickness (II Kings 13:14). Chances are we’ll die of something rather than nothing. That doesn’t mean we should give up the fight for good health while we live.  Do the best you can and if you go down, go down fighting.  I’ve seen God heal and I ardently believe in it. I hope to soon experience it.

 

                King David wrote: “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands…” (Psalm 31:14-15).

                God “…forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,” (Psalm 103:3).

 

In the times ahead, we Christians will have to learn to place real faith in God – for healing, for survival, for everything. Now is the time to start building for the future. For us, God must be more than a theological abstraction – he must become real to us (Hebrews 11:6). In his own time, God will phase out the world’s corrupt, inefficient System and replace it with his Kingdom and its values. Meanwhile we, as children of the Kingdom, do the best we can to live within those eventually universal values.

--  Brian Knowles

                           

February 12, 2009

 

Lincoln's Birthday: Why not discuss religion?

Abraham Lincoln, while not member of an organized denomination, was a very religious man. He studied the Bible and prayed. His vocabulary and illustrations cast a biblical aura over his speaking and writing. In the first hundred years of our Republic it was quite common for presidents to engage in serious and prolonged religious discussions. If you've visited his memorial in Washington D.C. and read his words on the marble wall, you know this was a spiritual man and his spirituality was Christian. It will also be hard to hold back the tears as his words echo in your heart.

 

He knew that God could not be both on the side of the South and the side of the North in the war that had torn the nation apart. Yet, in his notes to himself he wrote that God could still be working out his will in spite of the sins committed by each side in the conflict. He saw God as interested and involved in the affairs of mankind as he shepherds along His Grand Plan.

 

Today it is fashionable to avoid discussions of religion. Some people have a policy against discussing it in the home. It wasn't that way among many of the great minds that founded our nation. I've been reading the religious discussions between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams--two of the giants to which our nation owes it survival and success. They agree on this teaching and disagreed on that. They both agreed that Calvinism was a despicable doctrinal package--especially its teaching of double predestination and the twisted picture of God that it presents. Jefferson didn't mix words.

 

He wrote that Calvin and his followers have "introduced more new absurdities into the Christian religion" than can readily be imagined or than should be tolerated. He called out Calvinists saying they had not perpetuated Christianity, they have perverted and defeated it. "Their blasphemies have driven thinking men into infidelity," and had it not been for their "Counter-religion," "the whole civilized world would now have been Christian." Jefferson wrote to his friend Jared Sparks in 1820 that paganism is far more intelligible than Calvinism. Mr. Jefferson, please tell us what you really think.

 

John Adams, no fan of Calvinism himself, wrote this tong-in-cheek comment to his friend Jefferson. He wished Jefferson good health and long life until he became a Calvinist. A wish like that, Jefferson replied, if granted, "would make me immortal." In reading the Jefferson-Adams correspondence I was taken aback by the depth with which they understood and discussed religion. When they were writing our founding documents it is this understanding of the human condition and the effect of good religion upon it that produced the structure of our government.

 

Neither Adams or Jefferson thought the doctrine of the Trinity to be biblical and blamed the fourth-century theologian Athanasius for pushing it into the Christian dogma. Jefferson call the doctrine of the Trinity a "mere Abracadabra," and an unhappy example of what happens when one gave up "morals for mysteries, Jesus for Plato." Jefferson felt so strongly the need for public virtue he was even willing, should it come to that, to have a perverted and corrupted Christianity rather than none at all. For no system of morality would work for the common man or woman "without the sanction of divine authority stampt upon it."

 

Today I'd like to see more discussion of religion in the public square, not less. Politics, sports talk, celebrity news and worship, and the day's weather don't edify the soul, even though they dominate most conversations. Isn't religion, especially the Judeo-Christian religion, more relevant to the human condition than politics? I think so. Religion makes its home in the heart of man and frames his worldview, his morality, has sense of good and evil. Politics is communal and affects how society is organized and ruled. In most societies for the length of human history people have had very little say or influence in politics. Their choices were limited. The masses were ruled over by an elite, the political class that had the power. Religion has always been important and personal--even for, especially for, the powerless.

 

In more recent times the emergence of Western Democracy has allowed the common man and woman to participate in politics through the ballet. But the democratic experiment depends upon an informed citizenry and a cultural morality if it is to function well or at all. Politics and religion have often been at war for power over people. But they also have a limited history of working together. More on that story next time. --Ken Westby

 

January 16, 2009

 

Humility in Politics
Perhaps that caption is an oxymoron. Like oil and water the two don't mix well. Humility is such a beautiful quality it is surprising we don't see more of it among our political leaders. Humility is hard to fake; arrogance comes so easily.
Arrogance's father is Pride, one of the seven deadly sins (Pride, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, and Sloth). Pride of place goes, of course, to Pride, which was Satan's sin and nourishes all the others. Humility is an antidote to Pride.

 

Proverbs advises that "with humility comes wisdom" (11:2) and "humility comes before honor" (15:33). The ambitiously proud want to ascend, succeed and prosper yet ignore the better path: "Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life" (Pro 22:4).
 

With all the political boasting and posturing and the near cult-like trust invested in an untested political leader, people set themselves up for major disappointment. Men are weak and pride doesn't suit them. I tire of the boasting of those ignorant of the God who rules in the kingdom of men. Old Nebuchadnezzar had to learn that lesson the hard way by eating grass like a cow for a few years till he acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of man (Daniel 4:25-27). Some of the arrogant politicians presently dominating the news might be improved by some time in the pasture.

 

Among the ancient Greeks, the philosophical concept know as hubris was frequently cited to account for the fall of the high and mighty. Hubris meant pride or, more precisely, insolence. God does not well tolerate hubris in men. Politicians, both dictators and elected, are often given to boasts beyond their ability to deliver. Just before the fateful voyage began, a Titanic crewmember put hubris into words. Asked by a passenger whether the company’s promotional literature’s claim of an “unsinkable” ship was really accurate. He responded, “God himself couldn’t sink this ship!”

 

Humility before God is a starting place for politicians in considering their own worth and power. We will be hearing a lot of public prayers this January as a new administration begins its “reign.” I think God would recommend a proverb to preface all such prayers for success:

 

He [God] mocks proud mockers

But gives grace to the humble. (Pro 3:34)

 

May God have mercy on our nation and bless it as we turn our hearts toward Him.