Archive for the 'Book Thoughts' Category



The Andromeda Strain

Recently I reread Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. I first read it not too long after it came out in 1969 (at least the paperback), which would have put me in high school or college. I kind of think high school because 1) I had no time to read any novels during the 4 years I was in college and 2) I remember not really having much of an idea what was going on in it.

As a result I did not read Crichton again until Jurassic Park came along in 1990. I had no problems understanding what was going on in Jurassic Park, in fact, I loved it and went on to read almost all of Crichton’s novels until his death. Now I’m going back to catch up on his early work.

Re-reading The Andromeda Strain I certainly understood why I might not have grasped what was going on the first time, since it’s heavy on the science/medical stuff which I had no frame of reference for in high school. This time I had no problem with any of it, because almost all of it was familiar.  The funny part was how outdated it was combined with the pervading tone of  “Wow! isn’t this new computer technology mind-blowing?!”  Now days all that stuff is clunky and slow, and the “weird” new technologies are commonplace.

What was even more interesting to me, and what I now see runs through almost all his work, is the idea that science is fallible and subject to the effects of ignorance, stupidity, naivite, arrogance and thus — my conclusion here — not to be worshipped.

He starts in the “Acknowledgements” which is actually part of the story, and says:

“This book recounts the 5-day history of a major American scientific crisis. As in most crises, the events surrounding the Andromeda Strain were a compound of foresight and foolishness, innocence and brilliance. Nearly everyone involved had moments of great brilliance and moments of unaccountable stupidity.

To the list he adds fatigue, minor but not uncommon malfunctions of machinery, and incorrect but logical assumptions born out of pre-existing mindsets that affected the investigator’s perspective and direction of inquiry. All these combined in the story to hinder and dangerously delay their arrival at the truth of what the Andromeda strain was and what it did.

I found it a treatise on the fact that man is not and never will be omniscient. There will always be vast areas of truth he will never comprehend. In fact, I believe there are some things we will never be capable of figuring out — or of truly understanding even if God flat-out tells us. After all, He’s already flat-out told us He is three persons in one essence and we don’t really understand that. Nor how Jesus Christ could have borne all the sins of all time in His body on the Cross in just three hours. Nor how He can be God and Man in one person forever, the two natures separate but inseparably united…

But I digress from the book. Because it seemed that these conclusions were everywhere. Case in Point:

“Biology… was a unique science because it could not define its subject matter. Nobody had a definition for life. Nobody knew what it was, really. The old definitions — an organism that showed ingestion, excretion, metabolism, reproduction and so on — were worthless. One could always find exceptions.

The group had finally concluded that energy conversion was the hallmark of life. All living organisms in some way took in energy — as food, or sunlight — and converted it to another form of energy and put it to use.”  [Emphasis mine]

One of the characters then presented three objects as rebuttal to this definition: a black cloth that absorbs heat, a watch with a radium dial, and a piece of granite which he challenged the other team members to prove were not living.

The cloth absorbed heat, seemingly to no purpose, but how can we say that for sure?  The watch showed decay in process, and the production of light, but again how could it be said for sure there was no purpose in it? Finally the granite, which he claimed was living, breathing and walking, only at such an infinitesimally slow rate we can’t see it. To the granite we are like flashes in the light. I loved this. Made me think of God, though of course He does see us, and has revealed Himself to us. He has not left us at the mercy of our limitations of sensation and rationalization, only of our volition.

The scientists finally conceded

That it was possible they might not be able to analyze certain life forms should they arrive…might not be able to make the slightest headway, the least beginning in such an analysis.

I loved this for the elemental humility that is in it, for showing the limits of science and man and drawing parallels (though not explicitly) to God, who is not only an “alien” life form, but the source of life.  And we cannot analyze Him, not in full, even with His word. Delving into questions like these should make us sit back and realize that.

As a culture and a civilization, we’ve spent so much time and energy and man-hours of effort trying to analyze our world, trying to figure out how the Lego pieces fit together, as it were. We’ve “invented” and produced a lot of things that supposedly make life easier and safer and healthier and cleaner. But… I do not believe we are any happier than any other generation of people. Because the only one who’s really worth all that time and effort to understand is God who is the only source of true happiness.

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Early Warning

Over the weekend I started reading a book called Early Warning by Michael Walsh, who used to be music critic for Time magazine. (It shows – he sneaks in all sorts of musical references, like naming a character after a character in the opera Turandot or using Elgar’s Enigma Variations to introduce a discussion about cryptology). The biographical material at the back of the books says Walsh was born on the US Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, comes from a long line of American servicemen dating back to the Spanish-American War, and grew up among veterans and intelligence officers in duty stations around the world. Which grants him a degree of credibility for what he’s writing about.

Early Warning is a “Jack Bauer novel”… that is, its set-up is very much the same as that of 24 — the hero, supersecret operative “Devlin” is part of a supersecret security agency buried in the National Security Agency, a man who pretty much answers to no one but himself and has direct access to the president whenever he wishes. I’m only about a third of the way through, and the story is apparently a continuation of earlier tales, but it seems Devlin may have as traumatic a history as Bauer has ended up with. Anyway, I’ve been enjoying it.

And then on p100 I came to a part about wiretapping, which is no longer about faux telephone servicemen connecting wires in boxes, but is in fact, more like the Kraken released from its lair (we saw Clash of the Titans recently)… a many tentacled beast far beyond our ability to control. I knew we were on our way to this situation; I did not realize we were there.

Here’s what Walsh says, writing in the thoughts of one of his characters, the director of the NSA:

“The Black Widow was the in-house nickname fo the NSA’s Cray supercomputer at Fort Meade. Forget privacy — no matter what the sideshow arguments in Congress were about the FISA laws or civil liberties, the Black Widow continued to go remorselessly about her job, which was to listen in on, and read, all telephonic and written electronic communication, in any language, anywhere in the world. It was the old Clinton-era “Echelon” project writ large, able to perform trillions of calculations per second as it sifted and sorted in its never-ending quest for key words, code words, patterns…

[snip]

“…The Black Widow not only heard all and read all, she could sense all: the technology had advanced to such an extent that the Widow and other Cray supercomputers like her — including the Cray XT4, known as the Jaguar, and the MPP (Massively Parallel Processor) housed at the University of Tennessee– could read the keystrokes of a given computer through the electrical current serving the machine. And all linkable.”

Well at that point I put down the book and went Googling. I’d thought the Black Widow might have been made up but what about the Cray XT4 Jaguar?

Real. Even has its own Wiki article here.

The Massively Parallel Processor?

Also real.

And so, to my surprise, is the Black Widow. Here. And here.

Note in both of these  latter references, one of which is the Cray Press Release, there’s nothing directly said about spying, other than the fact that these highly advanced supercomputers are provided to the government… presumably for research, since that’s all that’s mentioned in the release.

I did find some references to spying in a book review in the Baltimore Sun by David Wood. Reviewing The Shadow Factory by James Bamford, Wood says,

“Most convincingly, Bamford guides the reader through the NSA’s greatest challenge: staying ahead of the explosive growth in volume and types of communications.

“Voice traffic alone increases 20 percent a year. Digital cell phones and fiber-optic cables vastly complicate the eavesdroppers’ job. Today, the NSA’s colossal Cray supercomputer, code-named the “Black Widow,” scans millions of domestic and international phone calls and e-mails every hour. That’s harder than it sounds: For purposes of speed and encryption, many of these communications are transmitted in fragments. The Black Widow, performing hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, searches through and reassembles key words and patterns, across many languages. Storing all this data, Bamford reports, is already an enormous headache for the NSA.”

Full article here.

Since this was not an article on the NSA but a review of a book about the NSA, and since it seemed these words were only here reported as having been written by Bamford in the book, which I’ve not read, I went looking for corroborating information.

And came across ECHELON : ” a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses. Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched. The processors in the network are known as the ECHELON Dictionaries. ECHELON connects all these computers and allows the individual stations to function as distributed elements an integrated system. An ECHELON station’s Dictionary contains not only its parent agency’s chosen keywords, but also lists for each of the other four agencies in the UKUSA system [NSA, GCHQ, DSD, GCSB and CSE]”

So it does seem to be credible. I found the above link through Elizabeth Pratt’s blog The End Time where in one post she writes about Echelon and the computers and how easy it will be for a one world dictator to force everyone to carry the mark of the beast. With GPS and satellite surveillance, with the government having the ability sift through all electronic communication…they will be — maybe already are — able to keep tabs on everyone, and I would even guess using satellite surveillance and/or infrared they could find those without the mark (since they’d show up as a warm body without the proper signal from their implanted microchip”) so they can round them up for “beheading”. Elizabeth quoted from Rev 20:4 “…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand…”and when I read it, I thought, Does it really say beheaded? Indeed, it does.

Well, I can see how a preference for caves and paper communication might develop in such times!

In any case Ms. Pratt has a lot of interesting thoughts and information, charts, maps, etc, so if you’re interested in seeing how close we are to being able to keep track of absolutely everyone as well as everything they are saying to each other, electronically, at any rate, I recommend her post

Thankfully, all who’ve believed in Christ won’t be here for the actual Tribulation where they’ll be forcing everyone to get a Mark, but it’s amazing to see things that 50 years ago were unheard of, developing right in line with Biblical prophecy.

The Last Patriot and Abrogation

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been reading The Last Patriot by Brad Thor over the weekend and finished it today. I enjoyed it. Kind of like reading about Jack Bauer.  Plus I learned some interesting things.

Part of the plot hinged on Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Wars against muslim pirates in the early 1800’s and Jefferson’s search for Mohammed’s supposed last word/revelation from God which, according to the principle of abrogation would supersede all preceding text.

This was the first I’d heard of abrogation (at least under that term and that I can recall!) which is a concept in Islamic scholarship dictating that since the Koran was written by one man over the period of his own lifetime, documenting a series of visitations and revelations from the angel Gabriel, when any contradictory verses come up, the later verses abrogate the earlier. Thus a last word urging muslims to abandon violence and embrace peace, would nullify all those verses about violent jihad in Sura 9 and supposedly do away from Islamic fundamentalism as we know it today.

As far as I know there was no last word — the author admitted devising that part as a plot device — and really, I would expect there not to be. In fact, I had a bit of trouble suspending my disbelief on that one count, though it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. Rather it provided food for thought, and I always especially enjoy books that do that.

Abrogation seems like a weird idea to be applied to something that is supposedly the pure word of Allah, and a “perfect” book. Allah must not be eternal, immutable and omniscient like Jehovah if he kept changing his mind, or didn’t know how his commands were going to turn out and needed to refine them. This quibble is especially true  in the context of The Last Patriot, where we were supposed to believe that once it came out that Mohammed’s last words were about living in peace, everyone would just throw out the stuff in Sura 9 and the jihadists would be without a route to martyrdom. But … what kind of god is that? Either the infidel is evil and must be killed or he is not. How can Allah not know?

Well, that part was made up by the author, so I can’t fault Islam. But my opinion is that Mohammed was not met by Gabriel but more likely Beelzebub or someone of his ilk, and that Islam, like all religions (true Christianity is a relationship, not a religion), is yet another device of Satan to deceive and to counterfeit what God has done.

In doing some reading on Roman religion recently, I was struck with the fact that prior to the coming of Christ the dominant religions all involved idol worship. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans all worshipped many gods. Only the Jews were monotheistic (which quite ticked off the Romans since they thought everyone should be nice to everyone else’s god… sound familiar?) Then came Christianity, also monotheistic and eventually coming to power and superseding the old idol worship of the Romans. Some six hundred plus years after the birth of Christianity, Mohammed had his visitation and Islam was born. And to me the whole thing looks like a rip off and distortion of Christianity and Judaism combined into a new religion to distract people from the others. 

I find it interesting that at first Mohammed approached both Jews and Christians in friendship, wanting to join together with them, wanting them to help confirm his claims of being visited by God. When they rejected him, I don’t suppose it’s surprising he’d eventually receive word that they were now the enemy and worthy of destruction. Which so echoes Satan’s view on the matter, it’s clear to me Mohammed was only a pawn. (If Satan can destroy the Jews, then God will not be able to fulfill His promises to them, and will be made a liar, impotent and not-God. Which gives Satan a chance; and of course he just hates Christians outright since each of them is a member of Christ. He likes nothing better than to trip them up, make them look like fools, make them “curse God and die”, and get them sidetracked from the true plan of God for their lives. But if he could, I have no doubt he’d just wipe us all out…

Anyway, that wasn’t much about The Last Patriot  I guess, but it was an example of one of the thought trips its premise took me on. It was a fun and engaging read and, as you can perhaps tell from my trip, very informative and relevant to today. In fact, having first learned of ‘abrogation’ only last week, today I received an email on the three important things about Islam that most people don’t know. The first was abrogation!  (the second was sharia law and the fact that while the word “islam” does mean “peace,” it also means submission and thus is the perfect word for the religion — because when all others have been forced by its devotees to submit to it, by conversion or death, and it is finally is the only religion in the world, there will be peace.  But no freedom.

And the third important thing about Islam most people don’t know? That for muslims, deception is okay. In other words, taqiyya.

(I felt rather well-informed today!)

A Christmas Tradition

When I was growing up, and to this day, my family had a Christmas tradition that was unusual. I say that because when asked what we did “on Christmas” there was always a degree of shock in the asker when the answer was, “we spent all day opening packages.”

Maybe people thought we had SOOO many gifts it took us all day to get through them, but that wasn’t/isn’t the case. We didn’t have a big family — mother, stepdad, sister and me — we had a ritual. A couple of them actually.

The first was Christmas eve where we had lasagne for dinner and then arranged packages around the tree. When all was in the most “artistic” arrangement, we turned off the lights except for candles and tree lights, got some egg nog and sat listening to Christmas music and looking at the beautiful tree. Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Andy Williams’s Christmas album and more recently, Narada’s Medieval type music created a delicious “Christmasy” feeling. Mostly we just looked and sipped and listened and didn’t do too much talking.

All of that, I understand now, are typically introverted pleasures. We were soaking up all the stimuli — tastes, smells, colors, lights, the glory of the tree in the darkness, each individual ornament (and most were unique), the music, the holly berry scent of the candles, maybe a warm blanket…

Next morning we came out, looked at it all and then began our second ritual. One person would be designated the package distributor and each person would receive a gift to open. Then one by one we went around the circle, each opening in turn, noting the paper, ribbon tag, carefully unwrapping the gift in almost the same order it had been wrapped and finally opening the box to reveal the gift within. At which point considerable conversation would ensue, regarding the story of acquiring the gift, or why it was wanted, or other such things, some related and some not… This was not forced on any of our parts. We liked to draw it out and drink it in. To savor and enjoy all aspects of the process.

After a couple of “rounds” we’d go make breakfast and eat it. Then back to finish up the remainder of the packages. By then it was early afternoon and time to start dinner.

Given what I’ve seen in movies as well as what seems to have been the holiday modus operandi for most people who I’ve come in contact with is to rip into the gifts in a wild frenzy all at once, the whole thing over in half an hour.

That seemed so terribly unsatisfying to us, but our way certainly did seem to be “weird.” We’ve continued a reduced version of it into adulthood, though my husband being one of those who, growing up in a family with 8 kids, came from the ripping frenzy tradition had some adjusting to do. He has been tremendously gracious in adapting and taking part in the full spirit of the thing (though at times he does grow drowsy!). Anyway, he reported similar responses from people when they asked and he told them how we did it — weird!

Then, a few weeks ago I opened a book call Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, the same day I’d received it from Amazon to read this in the Introduction:

“I was number nine out of ten bright, creative, and mostly LOUD kids. My dad, an eccentric genius, had wall-sized speakers in the living room that blared out classical music. When the family sang together, we sang five-part harmonies of the uncompromising Handel’s Messiah. On Christmas Eve, we had a talent show and family service, and later tore into our presents all at once, paper and ribbons flying everywhere and voices crisscrossing the room shouting out “thank you!” and “just what I wanted!” These are happy memories, because there was a part for each of us. But instead of ripping paper and shouting, I sat in my corner with my pile of gifts and handled each as a treasure, slowly and carefully opening them, preserving the paper and lingering in the delight of discovery…..”

Whoa! I was absolutely astounded. There it was. Just what we did, without all the flying paper and yelling!

She went on…

“However, when there were no gifts to open and everyone was competing for airtime, I felt invisible and became overstimulated and anxious. My anxiety was not about the pressure to socialize; there were more than enough bodies to take care of that. I became anxious because I couldn’t think, and, without my own mind, I felt like I was disintegrating. My solution was to retreat to my room and write. In my solitude I could regain contact with myself and become solid again.”

Thankfully I didn’t grow up with nine siblings, but I have certainly felt this sense of being unable to think, especially recently where I’ve had so many things demanding my attention. But the retreating to my room to write and imagine stories… Yes! I couldn’t wait to get home from school and do that. She goes on to say she wrote science fiction (ditto) and developed secret codes (ditto) to share with her sister (I shared with a friend)… the entire introduction continued in this vein, highlighting things about myself I knew existed but had never really recognized as part of introversion. Nor had it ever occurred to me that there were reasons why I was always exhausted after social interactions, even those I enjoyed,  and that it wasn’t because I was bad, or defective or just plain ornery, but part of how God made me to be.

I have been so excited to read both this book and the other one I ordered, The Introvert Advantage, and I hope to share a bit of what I’ve learned from them both this week. The challenge will be to distill the most important bits from the wealth of things I could say about it all.

The Torah of Liberalism

The “Torah” of Liberalism. So is titled the final chapter of the book Why are Jews Liberals? by Norman Podhoretz, which I mentioned in my last post.

 Throughout the book, he has laid out a brief history of the Jews in Europe and the US, detailing the terrible treatment they received at the hands of the conservative religious folks of their day, the absurd beliefs of the latter (eg, that Jews kidnapped and killed Christian children because they need their blood to celebrate their Passover; or that the Jews started the plague by poisoning local wells) and the nasty treatment these sorts of beliefs produced, examples of which I gave yesterday.

Then came the Enlightenment in France, when resident intellectuals challenged the religious status quo and began to talk about equality of men, whether they accepted Christian doctrine or did not. As science began to take over as the religion of choice among the intellectuals, the Jews gravitated to them, even though in many ways they required as much of a shift from Jewish beliefs as Christian conversion did. Though many of these atheistic intellectuals (like Voltaire) expressed anti-semitic sentiments from time to time, that was ignored (much as it is today) because of these peoples’ antipathy toward Christianity as well as their promotion of equality.

Thanks to the Enlightenment, the Jews were released from their ghettos and allowed to join society as regular people, though they really didn’t find true freedom and prosperity until they came to the United States where their lot improved fantastically, also as I mentioned yesterday. Podhoretz continues to follow their political journey through the last century, and specifically through the run of presidents since and including FDR, the latter seen as something of a Messiah figure to them.

Throughout this time they consistently allies with the Democrat Party, partly because of how it carried on Enlightenment ideas, partly because it was in opposition to conservative Christianity, which as I said, terrified them, and partly because many of them had emigrated from Eastern Europe as devotees of Marxism (Ironically, Karl Marx was a Jew, but both his parents converted to Lutheranism before he was six). There was also an involvement in labor unions, which Podhoretz traces, so the contributing factors are varied. In any case, they were so committed to the communist/socialist/liberal viewpoint that it was practically impossible to consider any other.  One lifelong Democrat was quoted as saying he was sure his right arm would shrivel up and fall off if he ever dared pull the voting lever for a Republican.

Reagan made some inroads in this area after the disaster of the Carter administration, but the ground was lost by George H.W. Bush whose policies with regard to Israel were very negative… Even though more and incidents of antisemitism were erupting on the left and more and more support for Israel was blooming on the right, the Jews continued to be Liberal… and so we come to the final chapter which was the most surprising of all: “The Torah of Liberalism.”

Having exchanged a belief in the God of their Fathers for the supposedly nonsuperstitious and “scientific” Marxism, they were befuddled when that turned out not to work so well even as capitalism after WWII “began producing wealth on a previously unimaginable scale that surpassed even the rosiest utopian dreams of Marxist theory” (to say nothing of the complete collapse of the Soviet Union). Unable to go back to God, or to keep on with Marxism, they moved through a series of downgrades — first to social democracy, then to American liberalism. According to Podhoretz, “To most American Jews, liberalism is not…merely a necessary component of Jewishness; it is the very essence of being a Jew… a religion in its own right, complete with its own catechism and its own dogmas and, Tertullian-like, obdurately resistant to facts that undermine its claims and promises.”

In other words, in the face of facts to the contrary, some rely upon denial to maintain their belief system. That’s bad enough. Worse are the ones who defend their  position by claiming that their liberal faith is ‘the new Torah’  — “and,” says Podhoretz, “in the most literal sense of pursuing tikkum olam, the ‘repair of the world,’ a concept that (with the scantiest of justifications from the sacred texts) they have singled out as the essence of Judaism.”

Podhoretz then quotes the publisher’s description of a recent collection of Jewish essays entitled Righteous Indignation:

“In this ground breaking volume, leading rabbis, intellectuals, and activists explore the relationship between Judaism and social justice, drawing on ancient and modern sources of wisdom. The contributors argue that American Jewry must… dedicate itself to systemic change in the United States, Israel and throughout the world.”

Specific “justice issues” addressed in the essays include “eradicating war, global warming, health care, gay rights and domestic violence,” and amazingly, in every case the “teachings of Judaism” turn out to be right in line with these issues and the systematic change liberals are devoted to making.

“Repair of the world?”  This was the first I’d ever heard of such a thing. How weird that the Jews would throw off their old beliefs in the God of their fathers and the promises He made to Abraham, Moses, David… about the Millennial reign of their king, who will indeed repair the world… only to try to reproduce it on their own. In fact, in an earlier part of the book he mentions how they saw communism as the means of actually making a world where there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male or female, but everyone equal. That is, they see Liberalism as the means of bringing in the Millennium — without having to wait for their King.

And that just blew me away.

He Will Bless those Who Bless the Jews

As I said in my Sunday post, I recently read a book called Why are Jews Liberals?  by former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz. I found it fascinating and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this area. I found it particularly fascinating where politics and religion intersect.

There were several things that prompted thought for me. As I said, Podhoretz briefly traces the history of the Jews throughout the church age — the time when the franchise for bringing God’s word to the world was shifted from the nation of Israel to the (mostly) Gentile Body of Christ. Instead of a particular nation that was tied to physical ancestry, the truth of Salvation is now disseminated through various gentile “client” nations where enough freedom exists for the gospel to be preached, and for people to believe freely and be able to gather together to study God’s word and grow in grace as believers. The church age is a time when, as Romans says, there is no Jew nor Greek, no slave or free, no male or female, but all (Believers) have equal privilege and opportunity as members of the Body of Christ.

The first client nation was the Roman Empire, where the early church flourished and eventually got distorted into a state religion. That religion dominated the middle ages and much of Western History thereafter and unfortunately some of its leaders had what I consider to be very odd ideas. Whereas the muslims were commanded in their koran to kill the Jews, and drive them out (if they could) Christians were not. But that didn’t mean they were to treat them well.

Indeed, according to Podhoretz, it was from St. Augustine that the notion of the Jews as a “witness people” began (though this is not obvious from a quick investigation through Google) (he did cite his reference but I didn’t make a note of it when I had the book). That is, the Jews were destined “to live as testimony to both evil and Christian truth, but were not to be killed, for like Cain they bore a sign.(14) ‘Let them live among us, but let them suffer and be continually humiliated’. In obedience to this concept, then, the Catholic Christians of Western Europe gathered Jews into “ghettos”, not to kill them, but not to give them any opportunities either. Unless he converted to Christianity, the Jew had to wear specific types of clothing, was not allowed to attend school or hold any job but money lending. Their misery was said to be the proof that Christianity was true.

Eeerch! Say WHAT?!!

Their misery would be proof that Christianity is true? What a concept! I would think that the proof that Christianity is true lies with the Bible. And only that. The idea that the God of all grace would need to deliberately use someone’s misery to prove the truth of His word just strikes me as … wrong. 

And what about Genesis 12:3 “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The fulfillment of that promise is played out starkly in Podhoretz’s narrative. And I’m happy to say that it was the United States that ultimately provided the greatest freedom — and prosperity — the Jews experienced in all their history since the fall of Jerusalem. It’s amazing the number of European Jewish immigrants who came here virtually penniless, were quickly employed — often self-employed — worked their butts off and ended up some of the wealthiest people in our country.

Just think: Levi’s began with a Jew (Levi Strauss). Sears, Levy’s Department Store, Goldwater’s, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, Goldman-Sachs, Calvin Klein, Costco, Starbucks … okay so some of those are current. It’s amazing how many of them are in Hollywood… amazing how many things we take for granted, that are pleasures and blessings of life that have come from Jews in this country.

But then, the greatest blessing of all comes from a Jew as well, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who, of course was the one mostly being pointed to in God’s promise that in or through Abraham all the families of the earth should be blessed.

Irony of the Veil

I woke up this morning thinking about the message in the song performed by the Flotilla Choir, all the lies flying around about the “peace activists” being peaceful, the Israeli’s being brutal, and so forth. The truth is obvious to anyone who wants to see it, but as Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out recently, many, many people — practically the whole world, don’t want to see that. They jump on the bandwagon that “Israel is guilty until Israel is proven guilty” with eagerness and great conviction. Don’t bother us with the facts. We have no need of them.

The irony in it is that this same attitude was practiced by the Pharisees of Jesus’s day with regard to His position as their prophesied Messiah. He did miracles, He taught with authority, using the Scriptures, He argued them into silence because they had no words with which to respond. He fulfilled something like 600 prophesies of the coming Messiah, and yet they, the most knowledgeable of all the Jews when it came to the Scriptures, didn’t see it. Instead of going to those Scriptures and looking at the prophecies and how the elements of His life and person matched up, they preferred to accuse Him, test Him, argue with Him, insult Him, discredit Him, and ultimately kill Him. When He told them the truth, they became enraged. When people said they thought he was the Prophet, they’d fixate on one element — “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (Jn 7:41,42)

How hard could it have been to find out that He had indeed been born in Bethlehem (Micah 5?2), and gone to Egypt and been called out of it (Hos 11:1) and now from Nazareth, a Nazarene (Is 11:1 branch = Naytser) These are the scripture experts, the ones who supposedly had memorized the whole thing down to the least jot and tittle.

But they refused to see. The Word says they had a veil over their eyes — the veil of negative volition. (2 Co 3:14)

And even as they were not interested in facts, only in believing their own lies in those days, so they are now. I recently read a fascinating book called Why Are Jews Liberals? by Norman Podhoretz, who is editor of the conservative political magazine Commentary. In the book, Podhoretz poses the question of why, despite the fact that the Conservatives are now unquestionably the side of the political spectrum that most faithfully and even adamantly supports the Jews and Israel, the Jews themselves remain steadfastly liberal. Refusing to see the Anti-Semitism of the left, they dismiss it with the idea that the liberals don’t mean it, or in the case of antagonism toward the state of Israel (which not all of them support), by agreeing with Israel’s critics.

The very first thing Podhoretz brings out is that the main reason Jews aren’t Conservative is because they are terrified of Christians. Terrified that should they ever come to power that they will forge a new state church that will begin anew all the persecutions the Jews have endured over the last two thousand years and only recently escaped. Even though it was socialist/Nazi Germany and communist Soviet Union though administered the greatest attacks against the Jews in history. And were the most recent to do so.

I’m not saying that Christianity as an institution (as a religion, really — and I don’t believe that true Christianity IS a religion) hasn’t had its dark days with regard to how it’s treated the Jews, but nothing it did was ever so dark as what went down under those two “liberal” or “progressive” regimes in Europe.

The book traces the fascinating if necessarily brief story of the Jew’s history in Western Europe and the US, because that history is definitely part of their reasoning for siding against Christians. But history isn’t all of it. Many of the Liberal Jews have the same unreasoning, illogical, irrational, hard-hearted antagonism toward  Christianity as their Muslim/Arab enemies have toward them.

And I find that ironic.

More on the book tomorrow (If I get back from my mother’s cancer treatments with a reasonable amount of time left in my day… unlike last week)


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