Smuggler

As has been mentioned casually, your humble servant worked for twenty-two years as a uniformed officer of the U. S. Customs Service – and after a governmental re-organization, the U. S. Customs and Border Protection agency.  Part of my duties were to seek out, detect, seize merchandise – including contraband – imported contrary to law and apprehend those responsible.

Obviously I looked for smugglers.

I cannot remember the date anymore.  I should have noted the date and time, but I didn’t.  I remember it was after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  That makes it post 1991 at least.  But it was in the early 90′s as I recall.  It’s been a while.

I was working the day shift at the Port of Entry at Los Angeles World Airport in the Bradley Building.  I had a job ‘floating’, that is, moving from arriving flight to arriving flight, observing and questioning passengers to determine if any required further attention.  Not a serious morning; as I recall most of the flights were from Europe and nothing of consequence.

One young man was approaching and I approached him, asking for his passport and Customs form.  He had it very handy and presented them with a cheerful smile.  I asked him his business and he told me he was a representative of “Open Doors”.  My lightening fast brain started whirring as the memories in my head bubbled forth.  Okay, it might have been a squeal instead of a whir, a minor amount of smoke and one memory fell out of my ear.  But it was a good one.

“You’re one of the smugglers!”  I said with my winning smile.

The young man looked slightly ‘stricken’ for just a moment, then remembered where he was and the smile returned.  “Yes”, he said, shaking my outstretched hand and warming up, “We are.”

I asked the obvious question, “Is he here today?”  My interviewee immediately said, “Oh, yes…” looking about he said, “He’s over there by the front of the [examination belt], heading for the door.”  Oddly, he didn’t point; one acquires habits like that.

I looked where the gentleman directed and saw a very ordinary looking man in a business suit walking purposely toward the exit.  Without breaking stride, he turned and waved.  He knew someone was looking at him.

The man in question is  now identified as Andrew van der Bijl.  However, for many years – I first found out about him in the late 1960s, he worked under an the alias of ‘Brother Andrew’.  I was not then, nor am I now surprised when he made me in the Customs hall.  He was and is the most successful smuggler in the modern world.  (Possibly in the ancient world as well; such things are hard to evaluate.)  For over thirty years – closer to forty – Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into Communist block countries and delivered to trusted Christian contacts.  He was never caught.

He’s still in the business, by the way.  Check out the website  - http://www.opendoors.org/ – for current details.  He co-wrote an autobiography in the middle 1960′s called God’s Smuggler, detailing his youth and career.  It reads like a James Bond novel, except no one gets killed and he doesn’t sleep with any women, let alone three or four.

Once, I was about thirty-five feet from shaking hands with Brother Andrew and I missed him.  I don’t feel too bad, the Soviets couldn’t get him in nearly forty years.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Heroes and Heroism, Uncategorized

Mistakes in the Bible – Not as Awful as One Might Think

I’m getting frustrated again.  Why?  You ask.  (If you don’t ask, I can’t finish this essay – so I’ll presume you did.)  Also, I want to ask the reader to finish this essay; especially if the reader does not agree with the observations, deductions and comments herein.  Seriously, if the reader disagrees, I would like to know – and with some degree of reasoning, not just comments such as ‘Is not!’ or ‘That’s not what my Momma said’.  Accusations of heresy are welcome, as long as the accuser can explain and argue the heresy.

It seems – and I should emphasize the word ‘seems’ – Christians are afraid of what the Bible reports.  There are two embarrassing passages in the Bible that are largely ignored and superficially appears to conflict with current scientific knowledge.

Before I continue, allow me to recommend Second Timothy 1:7  “For God did not give us a Spirit but of power and love and self-control.”  For a Christian, God does not incite fear in the meaning of panic and running away – not to be confused with fear as respect.

The reason they are afraid is that many modern exponents – the ‘experts’ – of the Bible claim the Bible is scientifically reliable and conforms to science – in some cases has superior scientific knowledge to current theories.

The main passage I wish to discuss is in the first part of the 38th Chapter of the book of Isaiah the Prophet.  The King James Version presents as follows:

1.  [new paragraph] In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

2.  Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD,

3.  And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

4.  [new paragraph] Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying,

5.  Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

6.  And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.

7.  And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken;

8.  Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.

 Synopsis of events.

Hezekiah was King of Judah, the southern kingdom of what was once the complete nation of Israel.  He is listed as the thirteenth king of Judah in the span of 715 to 687 B. C.  Hezekiah was king roughly one hundred years prior to the total conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians about 587 B. C.

Hezekiah became ill, seemingly an infection of some sort.  The details are not known, other than God told the prophet Isaiah that Hezekiah would die as a result.  Hezekiah appealed to God and God granted Hezekiah another fifteen years of life.  Additionally, God gave Hezekiah a ‘sign’ as a promise Hezekiah would live and not die immediately.  The ‘sign’ – miracle, wonder, public display – was the shadow of the sun on the ‘steps’ (which seem to indicate a set of stairs in the palace which were built to serve as a sundial, or was perhaps just a sundial) would reverse and ‘go back’ ten ‘steps’ or ‘degrees’.

The last verse shown here says, “So the sun returned ten degrees…” which literally means the sun went backward.  Yes.  It says the sun went backward.  Please feel free to check an interlinear Bible (original Hebrew text shown in one line with English translation on the corresponding line below).  If that isn’t convenient, check out www.blueletterbible.org and look at the passage; use the Strong’s Lexicon to check on the individual words.

Another passage dealing with the arrangement of the solar system is Joshua 10: 12 to 15.  Please look it up and read it.  For best effect, read it in the King James Version.  This passage in Joshua sketches a battle between Israel (after leaving Egypt and prior to setting up in Canaan) and the Amorite forces.  Joshua asks the Lord for help and the Lord extends the hours of daylight; verse 13 says, “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hastened not to go down about a whole day.”

These Biblical references reinforced the deeply held belief (developed by Aristotle and Ptolemy) the Earth was the center of the solar system and the Sun orbited the Earth.  See, it says so right ‘there’.  This, by the way, was the heresy of Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus, about one hundred years prior to Galileo.  Both Copernicus and Galileo discovered by experiment and observation the Sun was the center of the solar system.

Current astronomical observations indicate the Sun is the center of our solar system and the Earth orbits the Sun.  (Nikky and Galileo were right.)  So it isn’t possible with our understanding for the Sun to move backward or just stop.  The Sun really doesn’t move in this sense; the apparent movement of the Sun is due exclusively to the rotation of the Earth.

This is the point at which my Christian colleagues panic.  Especially the ones who heretofore have claimed the infallible nature of the Bible make information in the Bible superior to any science.

This ‘panic’ reveals in one of several ways.

1.  They see that, throw up their hands and give up on the Bible as obviously fraudulent.  This isn’t very common among seasoned believers, but it does happen.  It is really common among non-believers as ‘proof’ of the unreliable nature of the Bible.

2.  They claim the astronomers are wrong and the Earth really is the center of the Universe, the Sun orbits the Earth.  This was the view of most people in Western Civilization since the time of Aristotle.  Christianity was no exception, by the way.  If one remembers as a child, that’s the reasonable observation.  In fact as adults we all use the expressions of ‘sun up’ or ‘when the sun comes up’ and so forth.  (At least in English, I rather imagine the same is true to some degree in other languages as well.)  This is one of the reasons the Roman Catholic Church arrested Galileo; he discovered – and published publicly – the Sun was the center of the solar system, contradicting the Bible and was thereby guilty of heresy.

This view was not confined to the 17th Century or so, either.  There was a very famous sermon preached by a remarkable man named John Jasper in 1882 called “The Sun Do Move!”  That sermon cites the above references and a couple more:  Ecclesiastes 1:5 “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down…”; Psalms 1:1, 113:3 both refer to the ‘rising and setting’ of the Sun;  Judges 14:18 “Before the sun went down…” also indicates movement on the part of the Sun.

I note the Roman Catholic Church has changed their position.  Pope John Paul II apologized to Galileo Galilei for the Church’s error in 1633.  The Pope made the statement on 1 November 1992.

3.  The commonest response of modern Christians to this information is to simply ignore it.  Pretend it isn’t there.  Don’t see nothing.  Sometimes I get the answer, ‘That doesn’t mean anything’, but the reaction is usually more deceptive than that.  “Let me look into it and get back to you with a studied response rather than an off the cuff answer.”  I always agree and they never ‘get back’ to me.  Never.  Not once.  I don’t know if they ‘look into it’ or not.

This last, commonest response is the one I find the most distressing.  The ‘ignore it’ response is a panic reaction based on total inability to face reality.  The Almighty God who created the Universe from absolutely nothing has nothing to fear.  Not to mention the phrase ‘Fear not!’ is used so very often in the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus.  (For a long time I’ve felt the phrase rendered in the modern tongue is probably closer to “Don’t Panic”.)

Once again, Second Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  A Christian should not fear the truth – even if it seems uncomfortable.  (Which is not to encourage a foolhardy attitude, but that’s a different discussion.)

Somewhere along here, the typical Christian – if they haven’t run in panic by now – will ask or accuse me of denying the Bible.  I don’t.  I cherish the Bible and trust it as being the message of God that I actually read it and don’t skip over the controversial parts.

I fully believe the events reported were reported exactly as the writer saw and understood them.  Yes, I trust the fact the Sun stayed in the sky for Joshua’s battle with the Amorites.  I have no doubts or qualms about the ‘shadow’ of the Sun ‘moving back’.  But the conclusion of the witnesses regarding the movement of the Sun around the Earth is not justified.  I also know that doesn’t happen.  So do most Christians, actually.

So why do these various passages appear in the Bible? 

As a Christian, I believe in the ‘inspiration’ of the Bible; as well as ‘Divine revelation’ and efficacy, sufficiency and even authority and ‘infallibility’.  So the Bible is exactly what God caused to be written and preserved as a message.  It is exactly what God wanted said.

So, what is the purpose of the Bible?  The Bible explains who is God.  The Bible explains the existence of the Universe and the relationship between God and the Universe.  The Bible then explains who man is, and the relationship between God and man.  The Bible explains the problem of sin and most importantly, what God did to fix the problem of sin, man and the broken relationship between God and man.

However, the Bible is NOT the book of everything.  There are no instructions for repairs or adjustments to automobiles.  No recipes for brownies.  It is NOT a complete history of the Universe or even the Earth (note neither the Chinese nor the Celts are mentioned.)  Finally, to put a fine edge on this, the Bible is NOT a scientific textbook explaining all the workings of the Universe.  Why not?  Because that was not God’s intent in giving the Bible to humanity.

That’s why the confusion between those who claim ‘…the Bible says…’ and Galileo.  At times, ‘…the Bible says…’ faction try to make the Bible into something it is not.  I find that futile and tragic.  Remember the Lord’s comments about ‘…stiff necked Jews…’?  I really think He says the same thing about ‘stiff necked Christians’ as well.

The passages which speak about observations of the Sun ‘moving’ in ways not normally seen are absolutely true from the standpoint of the witnesses.  These are NOT made up stories; they are not fairy-tales or conspiracies.  The only error is the human error of misperception.  So why did God allow this misperception in the inspiration of both writing and assembly of the Bible?  The God who sees all, knows all, and orchestrates all actions of man, beast and nature surely didn’t just let these bit ‘slip by’, did He?  I cannot think so.

I think they are just to remind us – to tell us – the Bible is not other than what He wants it to be; His message to us about how to get along with Him.

You know , of course, this means war.  (Thanks, Bugs.)

Not so much the killing and slashing sort of war, but there are going to be many, many people who won’t agree to any of this, simply because it means they have been (taught) wrong all their life and they are comfortable with the rather minor gaffe.  I expect a period of ‘denial’ and ‘adjustment’.  How long with the ‘denial and adjustment phase go on?  Check with Galileo.

I will no doubt be attacked for ‘heresy’, despite all the evidence in the Bible.  The real offense in this is telling people what they do not want to hear.  So many Christians are ‘comfortable’ in their world of belief.  That’s a good thing, by the way; a Christian needs to be comfortable in God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It gets to be a bad thing when a Christian limits himself to certain boundaries, the boundaries of comfort.

Acknowledging this slight change in doctrine will NOT result in anyone losing their salvation.  No one will be kicked out of Heaven, no one will be shunted off to Hell.  No Bishops or pastors will be defrocked.  There will probably be a rise in taxes, but that has nothing to do with this.  There will be some books re-printed.  The ‘serious theologians’ will be able to argue about this and write books for years.  And attitudes on the limitation of God’s authority and power will be challenged.

Most Christians limit God by their understanding of God.  Essentially, if I cannot understand how God works according to you, then you are incorrect in your belief.  Or in other words, if I believe God is ‘this big’ and I’m comfortable with it, then you demonstrate God is ‘bigger’, I’m uncomfortable with it.  Hopefully, I’ll adjust and realize God is much bigger than I thought.  (Which He is, and I’ve ‘adjusted’ several times now.)

My late father was a Christian, rather devout and a proud (yes, proud) fundamentalist.  One day while watching something on television about scientific investigations in the history of the Universe, the program was talking about the Big Bang Theory (the Cosmological model, not the comedy show).  As they finished explaining how this theory was derived, and what calculations, observations and ‘stuff’, my father stated it was all “…a bunch of hooey.”  I thought it made sense, so I asked him why he thought as he did.

His explanation was simple and to the point:  They didn’t even mention God.  Which, to my father was denying God’s existence.

So I asked my father, “How much is two and two?”

He looked at me with that expression of “…kid’s gone around the curve again…” and carefully said, “Four”.

I replied, “You didn’t say ‘God says two and two is four’, did you?”

He looked away and said, “That’s different”.  I asked him why it was different.  If we are to give God the credit for the laws of physics, aren’t we to give God the credit for the laws of arithmetic?

My father felt ‘tricked’ of course.  Only his view of God was really valid and counted, certainly not the view of his son, who was a dumb kid anyway and thinks he’s too smart for his own good.  However, I did see a hint of him considering the proposition.  Why is arithmetic so different from the origin of the Universe?  Is it possible we don’t think of God as the reality behind arithmetic because we use arithmetic all the time?  Is it possible that arithmetic is more familiar than the origin of space-time?

Along this line of thought, why is not having sexual relations with a person not one’s spouse part of God’s moral law, and drawing to an inside straight is just good sense?  Isn’t ‘good sense’ part of being created in God’s image?  Or one of the abilities God issued and expects us to use?

Is God big enough to orchestrate the scientific view of the Universe?  Or is God bound by my knowledge?

Is God bound by your knowledge?

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One Never Knows

My name is Yakov. I think you would call me “Jacob”. It’s an odd name; it means ‘heel holder’, but Yakov made good – with the Lord’s help. I am in the hospitality business; a ‘hotelier’, you would say. In my day, we didn’t think of it like that. I owned and operated an inn.

Business was good at the time. As it happened, the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus – may he rest in peace! – had ordered all people to ‘register’ for the Roman taxation. Always in my pocket, he was. This ‘registration’ meant everyone had to return to their ancestral homes. Why Caesar couldn’t have just registered them where they were? Don’t ask me; I’m not a Caesar. But it was good for my business; I was full. And then some.

I ran an inn in a little town called “House of Bread”. Apparently at one time, there were some serious bakers in the area. Or perhaps the town planning commission thought it sounded good. About the only thing ‘famous’ about the area was this was from where came David, King of Israel. His father’s land was just out of town a ways. Where? Hah! There are six different places all claiming to be ‘Ranch Jesse’ within walking distance! My father – who lived here during his life – Bless the Lord! – told me it was the one north east of town. He said his father told him that. I’ll take his word for it.

So the place – my inn, that is – was full. Every room was full, people were sharing rooms, people were sharing sleeping mats, beds, chairs and one hammock. The dining room was so full – how full? Well, fat people had to take turns breathing!

So then the new couple showed up. They were really tired. From Nazareth in the north they came. Probably the better part of a week they had traveled. They were tired. And pregnant. My children are all grown up, but I remember when my Hannah was with child. I could tell when I saw her, she was ready. Some women are ready and some are ready; this girl was READY.

And like I said earlier, I was full. Besides, they – the new couple – did not want to be part of that grumpy bunch in the inn. The people in the inn were out of sorts about the taxation and travel. And the new couple were going to be rather busy later that evening. I could tell the signs; she kept rubbing her stomach and stretching, trying to make the little aches go away. Hah! They only go away when the child is born!

There were two other inns in town. One of them – David’s – had sent ME the last two customers who tried to get a room from him. The other inn – run by a scalawag called Nabul. Nabul was a ganav – a thief – who overcharged and his place was so filthy mules and horses run off.

Beside, I’m going to turn away business? Turning away business is no way to make a profit, is it?

And, I remembered when my first born came. Hannah was so brave, so determined. And so BIG. Just like this young woman of fourteen or fifteen summers. We were hoping, in the fulfillment of the prophesy, that our firstborn would be the promised Messiah; the savior of Israel. Everyone hopes that for their firstborn. He wasn’t. He’s a good son and a decent man; but he’s not the Messiah.

But where? Out, am I supposed to throw someone who came earlier? Which ones? They all paid with good money.
I spoke to Yosaf – I think you call him “Joseph” – and made him an offer.

“Yosaf”, I said, “…trust me when I tell you this; you don’t want to stay inside. It’s full and smelly and loud. I have no place to put you and your wife, even at half a denarius a head – the usual rate. However, you have a donkey who needs fed and shelter for the evening. The rate for your donkey – in the stable area – is one-quarter a denarius. AND, you both can bed down close so he doesn’t wander off.”

He looked at me with suspicious eyes. I quickly said,
“It’s quieter out there than inside. And cleaner.”

Just so you know, I keep my place clean. But with that crowd inside, cleaning was a losing battle. At least for this night.

I motioned to Yosaf, “Come and take a look.”
The hay and straw was fresh and plentiful, the place was mucked out earlier that day. The animals present were quiet and going to sleep. There was a certain ‘earthy’ smell in the air, but truthfully, most of the people inside had traveled hard and in the sun, if you get my meaning.

He looked it over and realized I was telling him the truth. Yosaf finally smiled and said, “Yes. Thank you.”

Yosaf moved his young wife into the stable and made a comfortable place for her in the hay. Her name was Meryam if one retains some Hebrew, or Meria in the common language of the Empire; Yosaf called her “Miri”.

I went back inside – oy! – and had my Hannah take out a meal for them. I’m not sure they ate much. When the uproar in the main room died down to where I could, I went up to my quiet room on the roof and went to sleep. Peaceful, delightful, sleep.

ARE THE PHILISTINES ATTACKING AGAIN???

I looked out from under my bed like a frightened rabbit. What was that noise? But it wasn’t the sound of fighting and anger; it was the sound – a large sound, to be fair – of singing. I carefully went to the door way and peered out, trying to locate the source of the sound. My Hannah was even waking up. (A baby crying will wake her in an instant; the Babylonian invasion? Not so much. Morning will be soon enough.) All I could see was a rather bright light, off to the East a bit. What was puzzling was the light was in the air, not on the ground. I thought I saw some shapes, but nothing really distinct. Then it faded out, leaving only a memory of rather wonderful singing.

Going back to sleep immediately was not inviting. I was awake. Startled out of a sound sleep awake. So I made sure my Hannah was comfortable – she was already sleeping again – dressed and went down to look around the grounds to see if anything needed attention.

There are two times when even a – ahem – less than pretty woman is beautiful. Once when she is a happy bride, and when she successfully gives birth to her firstborn. Miri was a rather pretty girl in her own right, and when I saw her that night, she was not only beautiful, she was glowing. I was right, the baby had already come – as I predicted – and they were all comfortable and well. They had cleaned up the child – a manchild, as is proper for a firstborn – and he was wrapped up in the softest fabric they had. That child was gently sleeping, but as I peeked in through the door, I am absolutely sure he opened one eye, looked right at me, smiled, then went back to sleep.

I walked about the stables and the inn, checking to see all was well and nothing amiss. As I was finishing the rounds, I saw a group of tattered looking men walking toward the stables. Naturally I went to see who they were and what they wanted. I was expecting a problem; they were not decent people, they were obviously working class men and not working at the moment.

“What do you want?” I challenged them in my most impressive voice.

“We’re looking for a baby just born!” One of them said. “Is He here?”

I was taken aback. “How did you hear about a baby?” I asked, wondering if I could get to the rake in the stables.

“The angels sent us!” The rest of the conversation was somewhat chaotic. The men were polite and even quiet, but excited and tense. They all tried to speak at once, in a restrained manner. The gist of what they were saying was they were shepherds and had been watching flocks in the hills to the east of town.

They had been – ‘visited’ – by an angel. The angel was a large and imposing person who scared the men so badly they all thought they were going to die. But they didn’t. The angel told them the Savior of Israel was born this day – in the city of David. Then there were many angels, singing in the sky.

My mind brought up a memory of waking out of a sound sleep.

“So why are you here?” I shouted – them remembered and quieted my voice.
“The angel said the King would be sleeping in a feed trough.” And I remembered the feed trough close to Miri in the stable.

“Are you all right, sir?” one of the shepherds asked me.

I shook myself back into wakefulness and quietly said, “Follow me.” And I showed them what had happened. They took one look and all of them kneeled and bowed.

The baby’s name was – still is – Yehoshua. Those of us who speak Hebrew pronounce it that way, the language of the empire pronounces it “Jesus”.

I’ve got a feeling he will do well.

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The Cheney Sisters are ‘Feuding’?

Well, there’s a headline to warm the cockles of the left.

Imagine! Two sisters who disagree on something! I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you! (Thank you, Capitaine Renault.)

The facts speak for themselves: Mary Cheney is an open lesbian; she is married under the laws of the District of Columbia. Does it shock anyone she is in favor of ‘gay marriage’? It doesn’t surprise me; I’ve got a nickel that says it doesn’t surprise her sister, Elizabeth – ‘Liz’. Liz Cheney is a conservative candidate for the Senate. Is it surprising she holds a rather ‘traditional’ view of the marriage concept?

Further, is it any shock or surprise to anyone they differ in views of larger scope?

Finally, is it any shock the left wants to make as much of this as possible? Oooooh! There’s discord in the right.

Does anyone realize what this means? The truth of the matter is rather simple and breathtakingly obvious.

Conservatives think for themselves.

That’s it. Conservatives look at matters and decide on an individual basis. Conservatives are not a monolithic bloc who blindly follow the dictates of their ‘exalted leader’ in the manner of ‘Liberals’, ‘Progressives’ or whatever politically correct term the socialist left is trying to peddle this week.

What I expect is the ‘press release’ from the leftist faction coming up. Various writers will be issuing essays on the subject, and all will contain the essential ‘factoids’ from socialism center. Something on the order of ‘hatred’ (socialist speak for moral standards), inflexibility (socialist speak for knowing what and why one takes a stand on issues) and ‘prejudice’ (which means nothing more than anyone the socialists don’t like.)

I wish Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe the very best of life.

I wish Liz Cheney good fortune in her political aspirations – Lord knows we could use more good sense in the Senate and legislature in general.

As long as I’m at it, the very best to Vice President Dick Cheney with his new heart. And to Mrs Cheney, who is probably taking all this more seriously – being Mom – than is required, but not less than a Mom would, my very best wishes and warmest regards.

For the rest of the media; back off, vultures. It’s a family matter and will be solved by the family in question.

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A Thought About Veterans’ Day

11 November, a day to remember those who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States, and, honor the memory of those who died while serving.

My great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather both served in the same regiment (one of the Pennsylvania Volunteer regiments) in the Civil War. Both survived and went home following that conflict. Two of my uncles served in the Second World War – and survived. I served – rather modestly – during the Vietnam era. My two sons have both served more recently. We all came home reasonably unscathed. All of us lost people we knew and liked. They served as well, to the point of “… the last full measure of devotion.”

They are dead. Some died in combat, some of mis-adventure – both in service and civilian life – some simply of time and several of us are still alive. But we will eventually pass on into eternity; no mistake about that.

Death comes to all. Just understand that; everybody dies, sooner or later. In this, I must agree with some of the more ‘primitive’ cultures of Earth: The manner of death – the reason for death, dying in honor circumstances – is far more important than the mere fact of death. Facing one’s mortality is far better than hiding from it.

Which brings me to those who refused to serve.

During the Vietnam era, there were many who evaded military service – in fact, service of any sort. I’m not talking about a real conscientious objector, who for reasons of conviction could not harm another human being. I frankly do not understand the thinking of such, but I have known such people and respect them. The few I knew offered and served in other capacities – including my father in law who accepted military service as a medic, unarmed. (He too, lived to end his enlistment honorably and lives honorably now. Another man served in civilian life in medical service in lieu of active military service.

No, I’m talking about those who willfully evaded military service due to – and I frankly can think of no other concept – cowardice. They were unwilling to risk life and limb in the service of the United States simply out of selfish self-preservation. Cowards. Probably none of whom are reading this – as they refuse to face up to much of what I believe and prefer to hide from the truth of many things.

Sadly, our ‘society’ elected to encourage such behavior. The excuses were – and are – many. Most of the noblest sounding – and hollow – excuses being a revulsion for war and killing. As if those who served held some relish for war and killing; the standard lie the coward tells himself to excuse his cowardice.

The high (or low) point of this societal encouragement occurred when President Carter issued his infamous ‘amnesty’ for draft evaders on 21 January 1977. In doing so, President Carter dismissed the sacrifice of service of many Americans and desecrated the memory of every U. S. serviceman who died in service. His attempt to ‘heal’ U. S. society was done by belittling all the men and women who obeyed the law and honored their duty to the nation.

Duty. Now that’s a dirty word, isn’t it?

Since the day of President Carter’s betrayal of U. S. servicemen, the leftist faction of the U. S. has ceaselessly worked for the ideals of selfishness and betrayal of basic moral principles. That’s a bit of mis-statement; they had been working for such long prior and will continue such efforts far into the future. Among the moral principles denigrated is that of duty. One dictionary defines duty as “…something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation.” President Carter’s stance was to ignore the meaning of duty and replace it with ‘service to Leftist goals.’

Eventually, the left won the Vietnamese conflict by functionally surrendering to the Communist forces in South East Asia. This allowed the Pol Pot regime to murder millions of people in Cambodia and the establishment of the communist government in Laos. The withdrawal of the U. S. from Vietnam set the example of running from conflict – based on the premise that dying abroad as a U. S. serviceman was an unthinkable idea. Which stems from the root abandonment of any sort of moral conviction that might contravene self-focused survival.

Of course, this leads to the plight of the United States today. U. S. society – as defined by the leftist controlled ‘media’ – lauds the selfishness of the individual. Unless, of course, that ‘selfishness’ is expressed by a desire by those who work to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Voting to tax those who work to provide spending money to those who don’t somehow doesn’t qualify as ‘selfish’; that is – according to the grasping non-productive left – ‘fairness’.

Back to Veterans’ Day.

Will we honor those who have served the United States or not? How can anyone pretend to honor those men and women who have served – voluntarily or not – honorably while denigrating their service and sacrifice? How can anyone pretend to honor veterans and simultaneously work to destroy the foundational principles of the United States? If anyone wishes to honor veterans, they must also honor the principles of duty, self-sacrifice and service to God, country and others as well – even those who make more money.

As for the surviving draft-dodgers, I leave you with a slightly amended version of the words of Samuel Adams:

“If ye love [life at any cost] better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude [to cowardice] better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which [keep your miserable existence going]. May your chains [of cowardice and self-centeredness] set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen [who contributed to the current nature of unrest about the world and national failure].”

If you are one of those who ran from service and now regret your cowardice, good. Now act like you mean it and stand for decency and duty in place of comfort and security. If it means anything, I accept you. It’s not like I haven’t screwed up on occasion.

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Filed under Christianity, Civilization, Heroes and Heroism, Political Correctness

Madame, Your Banana is Mocking my Mustache!

Here is a photo of my very manly mustache.My manly mustache

Here is a photo of a banana I found at a local culinary establishment.1010131526

See what I mean?

Both the employees on duty denied having so decorated the aforementioned banana; and tentatively blamed the deed on the night shift (actually afternoon to evening) employee. When said – accused – night shift employee arrived – which happened fortuitously and not by dint of my waiting until – she denied having done so; she explained it was done by a customer whilst the employee was assembling the customer’s order. Everyone involved laughed, and I rather enjoyed it.

Still, upon reflection, I had two – no, three – thoughts on the subject.

One. Goofy things do happen to me. Probably not exclusively, but I find goofy things are the spice of life. (Except when I have to replace an engine or grow another arm.)

Two. My response – which I pressed into service as the title of this essay – sounds like either beginning or punch line of an old Monty Python routine.

Three. I need to record this for blog world posterity. And throw in a couple of other goofy bits I have either encountered, endured or invented along the way.

Once upon a time, when introduced to someone I had not previously met, my standard self-introduction was “Hello. Despite what you may have heard, that story about me, the twin sixteen year old blondes, the unicycle, the chocolate cream pie and the stuffed emu has been blown completely out of proportion. (I have since ended doing so, as the twins have filed for a protection order, I have been banned from several bakeries and the Emu Liberation League (ELL) has threatened a defamation suite.)

Sigh…

Once (and this is for real) I quipped some clever remark in response to a query; the person with whom I was speaking stopped, looked at me and said “That sounded like Groucho Marx.” I was so flattered I nearly cried. On the other hand, a woman with whom I was tenuously acquainted said I reminded her of Freddy Krueger, but without the warmth or charm. One cannot win them all.

I once got a laugh from the late Red Buttons. He was coming through the airport, I chanced upon him in the inspection area. So I walked up to him and said (with my standard dead pan delivery) “Excuse me sir; you look just a gentleman named “Henry Phyfe”. (For the youngsters, that was a single season TV show starring Mr. Buttons in the later 1960s. It was fun, but probably too cerebral for the average TV viewer of the time.) Mr. Buttons laughed out loud and said, “You can’t remember that!”

In some ways, I have devoted a good deal of my life to silliness. But I’m pretty good at it.

Maxime ineptias!

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Filed under Civilization, Life in General, Silliness