Think About It

These are the things you need to think about.

Category: Uncategorized

Jane Roe

Norma McCorvey passed away at an assisted-living facility in Katy Texas on February 18, 2017. She was 69 years old.  By all objective measures, Ms. McCorvey had a difficult life; reform school, a teenage marriage that ended in divorce, an out-of-wedlock birth, financial hardship, and drug and alcohol addiction.  She was 22, unwed and struggling when she discovered she was pregnant for the third time. Unable to get a legal abortion in Texas, attorneys, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, took her case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in January 1973, legalized abortion in the United States. Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe.

Later in life, Ms. McCorvey had a change of heart.  She became a born-again Christian, then a Roman Catholic, and a staunch pro-life advocate. Her conversion like her court ruling, remains mired in controversy, with each side of the abortion debate accusing the other side of exploiting her.

The abortion debate is contentious and emotional because it pits two fundamental human rights against each other; the right to life and the right to choose.  The most fundamental and basic of all human rights is the right to life.  It is an absolute right, meaning it is unconditional, there are no restrictions or limitations on it; no one can infringe upon or deny another person the right to life.  However, the right to choose is not an absolute right because it is conditional.  We are free to choose unless our choices infringe upon the rights of another person.  When that occurs, our freedom of choice is limited or restricted. This is the crux of the abortion debate; balancing a woman’s right to choose against an unborn’s right to life.

The right to have an abortion is not an absolute right, as Roe v. Wade acknowledges the State can regulate or prohibit an abortion after the point at which the life inside the womb becomes viable. “Viability,” is the actual term used in the Court’s decision. But what does that mean? “Viability” is the theoretical point in time where life can survive outside the womb, albeit with assistance. The problem with “viability” is that it isn’t an absolute. There are an infinite number of variables that determine the “viability” of a human life, including the quality of prenatal care and the ability to pay for that care. We can’t use “viability” as the determinant because it is too uncertain and discriminatory.  The determinant, the factor we must use in order to resolve the conflict of rights is, when does human life begin?

The human gestation period, from conception to natural birth is forty weeks.  The restriction clause of Roe v. Wade implies that there is a point during those forty-weeks when the life developing inside the womb becomes a human life, and that it’s at this point where the unborn’s absolute right to life supersedes the woman’s conditional right to choose.

So, when does that occur? When does, a life developing inside a womb become a human life?

I don’t know.  I know that at the instant of conception, a new life is created.  I know this because it meets the definition of life.  It’s a singled cell organism that takes in nourishment and metabolizes it. It grows, reproduces and functions.  So, it’s a life, but is it a human life? I don’t know. However, I do know that it contains human DNA, so without question it is a life of human origin. So, you could say it is a human life, but is a human life a person?  Does life of human origin developing inside the womb have human rights? I don’t know, but that’s the question we need to answer, isn’t it?

Abortion is and will continue to be an extremely controversial and divisive issue. I like most people, have my own opinions and beliefs.  However, I’m really not interested in opinions. I’m interested in the truth. Unfortunately, most people don’t seem to be all that interested in the truth. They really don’t want those questions asked, much less answered.  Try to broach the subject, try to have an honest debate or discussion about abortion, and you will be shouted down and vilified. Why? Is it because they’re afraid of what the answers might be? Do they prefer ignorance to truth?  Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not an excuse. Eventually, we are all going to have to face the truth.  Whether it’s struggling with our own conscience, or standing before our creator, the truth will be revealed and we will be judged. The controversy will not end until we can answer those questions. Well, at least for Norma McCovery, the controversy is over, may she rest in peace.

 

Life

Life the movie, promises to be one of next summer’s box-office sensations. It’s about the six-member crew of an International Space Station that discovers the first proof of life beyond earth. The astronauts find a single-cell biological organism on Mars. However, as they begin experimenting with it, their methods have unintended consequences, and the life proves to be more intelligent and sinister than anyone expected.

Putting the science-fiction and computer-generated imagery aside, finding a single-cell biological organism on Mars would completely alter our understanding of life in the universe. Currently, there is no definitive, scientifically verifiable theory that can explain how life emerged in the universe. Of course, there are numerous theories. One theory says life emerged on earth more than 3 billion years ago when lightning struck a bubbling caldron of methane, ammonia and hydrogen, and created the amino acids that would eventually evolve into the first building blocks of life. Other theories say that life may have been organized in the clay, or grown on the backs of crystals. Regardless, there is no scientific theory that can adequately explain the origin of life in the universe. It remains a mystery.

So, if we don’t know how life emerged in the universe, what do we know?

Well, we know that the universe sprang into existence 13.7 billion years ago from nothing, and when we say “nothing,” we don’t mean an empty space or the absence of some thing. We mean the non-existence of everything; no space, no time, nothing. Now, that’s impossible to comprehend because there must be something, in order for the human mind to comprehend it. However, the universally accepted theory is that our universe sprang into existence from nothing with a big-bang. What came before the big-bang, and what caused the big-bang, is a matter of speculation? The religious say that the first cause, the only thing that always was, and always will be, is God. Others believe that our universe is part of a larger mega-universe that has always existed in some other dimension beyond our ability to see or know. However, even though science is unable to tell us what happened before the big-bang, it does have a good idea of what happened after the first instant of creation.

The big-bang was the sudden release of energy, a flash of light that emerged from a singularity of nothingness to create, and continues to create, the time and space that is the ever-expanding universe. Initially, there was only energy, but as time passed and the universe began to cool; the energy congealed to create the subatomic particles that would eventually combine to form the matter that makes up the stars, planets, and everything else that comprises the physical universe.

So, from nothing came light, from light came matter, and from matter came life. Somewhere along the way, what we call life, the biological organic matter that is alive, somehow emerged from the non-biological inorganic matter that was not alive. Life apparently, emerged from the dirt or space dust of the early universe, in a manner that is remarkably consistent with the creation story in the book of Genesis. Whether that story is a product of divine revelation, or simply the insight of common sense, is debatable. Although life is the rarest phenomenon in the universe, it is for us, unfortunately all too familiar.

Think about it. From the simplicity of single-celled organisms like bacteria, to the complexity and magnificence of the human being, life on earth is everywhere. It’s so abundant and diverse that we’ve become callous of its existence. We take it for granted simply because it’s here. What we fail to understand is that life doesn’t have to be here. In fact, life shouldn’t be here because the calculated probability that life should have emerged in the universe, the chances that inorganic matter should have spontaneously become organic and alive, is less than zero. Life should not exist, but somehow it does. Was it the result of some cosmic accident, or the byproduct of some intelligent-design? Again, that’s something for you to decide.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if we did find life on mars? The world would come to a literal halt. The attention of every human being on the planet would be focused on a single-cell organism growing in a petri-dish, floating in a spaceship, millions of miles away, simply because it was alive and wasn’t found on earth.

Yet, somehow when we find an even more advanced organism containing human DNA, taking in nourishment, converting it to energy, and growing; we don’t consider it a life. If we found it on Mars it would be the confirmation of life beyond earth, and the greatest discovery in human history. However, when we find it in a womb, it’s not a life? It’s an inconvenience, just some type of inorganic matter. In our modern secular society, how we define life, what we are willing to say actually constitutes a life, is more dependent  upon where you find it, than what it actually is?

“I can’t watch any more of this.”

America, has just endured the worst presidential race in history. It was a mean spirited, mud-slinging fist fight where policies and vision gave way to insults, accusations and smears. The debates were so embarrassing that I ended up turning off the television saying to myself, “I can’t watch any more of this.” It was a national disgrace capped-off by angry mobs taking to the streets, vandalizing private property and assaulting innocent bystanders. Civil discourse and the right to disagree are dead in America. Today, we look more like the Argentina of Juan and Eva Peron than we do the America of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.

Never before has America been forced to choose between two such loathsome candidates. Donald Trump is a narcissistic buffoon, a self-promoting blowhard whose foul mouth and vulgarity regularly offends millions. Hillary Clinton is a corrupt liar, who deliberately circumvented the law, compromised national security, and abused her public office.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected; the United States may have found itself embroiled in a Constitutional crisis. The wiki-leaks emails indicate that Mrs. Clinton may have abused her position as Secretary of State and sold political favors for contributions to the Clinton Foundation. We won’t know the truth until the FBI fully investigates the foundation, but we could have found ourselves with a sitting President indicted for corruption. Additionally, National-Security experts know with absolute certainty that foreign governments hacked Mrs. Clinton’s email server. Meaning, if it exists, the enemies of the United States possess the incriminating evidence of Mrs. Clinton’s “pay-for-play” politics. The release of such information would throw the United States into a Constitutional crisis that would paralyze us, leaving us unable to respond to any further aggression by Russia into the Ukraine or Syria.

The election of Donald Trump means uncertainty and worry. Is the man taking the oath of office in January going to be the bigoted vulgarian we saw during the campaign, or the surprisingly humble and gracious man that gave his election night acceptance speech? If he chooses to be the obnoxious reality TV host, the American people will tell him in 2020, “Donald, you’re fired!” However, he is now the President-elect and only time will tell.

Should Americans be angry, should Americans be out in the streets protesting? Absolutely, but not because Donald Trump won the election and Hillary Clinton lost. We should be protesting because Clinton and Trump were the candidates, and because Clinton-Trump was the only choice, we had.

Think about it. Is this the best our country can do? How on earth did the most broken and corrupt candidates in US history secure the nominations of their parties? What happened?

What happened is that our political system is now so corrupt and broken that the only thing it can give us is broken and corrupt candidates. In ninety-eight percent of the elections, the candidate who spends the most on their campaign wins the election. And where do the politicians get the money to out-spend their opponents? It doesn’t come from the American people. The big money comes from the special-interests; the corporations, lobbyist, and other entities seeking political favoritism in return for financial support. Today, we have a political system in which politicians buy their office, and special-interests buy their politicians.

For more than three decades, people have been talking about reforming the system; implementing term limits, having publicly funded elections, and eliminating the PAC and special-interest money. But strangely, not a single candidate running for local, state or federal office made this an issue during the last election. Why? Because they don’t want to make it an issue, they don’t want to reform the system, they benefit from a broken and corrupt system. That’s why we get such broken and corrupt candidates.

People should be angry and out in the streets protesting a political system that no longer works for the benefit of the American people.  However, nothing is going to change until we put our ideologies aside, learn to engage in civil discourse without trying to destroy each other, and start working together to restore the integrity and impartiality of a self-governed Republic.

Why Colin Kaepernick is Right and Wrong

Colin Kaepernick’s freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, and he has the right to kneel during the National Anthem. If people find his actions offensive, that’s unfortunate. The price we pay for living in a free society is that people are going to say and do things that we find disagreeable. Anyone of us could one day find ourselves in Colin Kaepernick’s position. There may be disagreement with what he’s saying, or how he’s saying it, but there should be absolute unanimity in defending his right to say it.

Here is where Colin is right. African-Americans are definitely at a disadvantage in America. They have the worst schools, the highest unemployment rate, and are more likely to be victims of a violent crime than the rest of the population. It’s unjust, and Kaepernick is rightfully angry.

However, if Colin is claiming that the police in America are intentionally murdering black men, he’s wrong. Certainly, there are racist cops and corrupt police departments in America, but they are the exception, and not the norm. Statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, show that a black person is no more likely to be killed by a police officer than a white person. This was confirmed by an independent study conducted by Roland Fryer, an African-American Professor of Economics at Harvard, who found that there was no racial bias in police shootings in America.

If Colin wants to protest the fact that bigotry and racism still exist in America, he’d be right because there are racists and bigots of every color in America. However, if he’s claiming that institutional racism still plagues this country, he’d be wrong, because it’s virtually impossible to find a business, school, civic organization, city, state or federal agency, or any other institution that still discriminates against people because of race.

Now, if Colin is claiming that the deck is stacked against black people in America, he’s right. However, what he needs to understand is that today, the deck is stacked against most Americans.

“The American Dream,” is a term coined by historian James Adams to describe the idea that everyone in America, regardless of the circumstances of birth, has the opportunity to ascend to whatever level their ambition and abilities can take them. Unfortunately, for more than three centuries, it was nothing but a myth for most African-Americans. Finally, America began to awaken to the injustice, and the civil rights movement promised to give African-Americans access to opportunities that were previously denied them.  Although many African-Americans have been able to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them in America, rising to the pinnacles of the government, military and industry, today most African-Americans still find themselves languishing behind.

The frustration and anger being vented by the African-American community, although sometimes misdirected, stems from the realization that the promise of the civil rights movement has not, and may never materialize. A black child born to an unwed mother in the inner cities of America today, has little or no chance of working her way out of the poverty into which she was born. This is what I believe is the crux of Colin’s protest, and if it is, he’s right.

But why are the opportunities to improve their lives being denied African-Americans? They’re not. The simple truth is that there are fewer opportunities today for everyone. The Millennials will be the first generation in our history that will not have it as good as, or better than their parents. It will be harder for them to buy a house, educate their children, and to save for retirement. It will be more difficult for those entering the workforce today to improve their lives, then it was for those who grew up during the Great Depression.

“The American Dream,” is vanishing for all Americans. However, it’s hit the African-American community hardest because they were the ones relegated to the periphery of society and therefore, the most vulnerable.

Fifty-years ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. His idea was to provide the disadvantaged in America with the resources needed to improve their lives. It was a noble undertaking that was unfortunately, ill-conceived and negligently implemented. The war on poverty initiated the largest expansion of government in history, creating over 120 programs and bureaucracies intended to fight poverty. However, instead of giving people greater access to the opportunities needed to advance themselves, it has ensnared millions of Americans in a culture of dependence.

Social Scientists have shown that there is a direct correlation between welfare spending and out-of-wedlock births. An increase in welfare spending causes an increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births. The single biggest indicator that a child will grow up in poverty, drop out of school, become involved with drugs, crime and violence, and have almost no opportunity to improve their lot in life, isn’t race or ethnicity. It’s being born out-of-wedlock, and today 75% of all African-American children are born out-of-wedlock.

It may have been well intentioned, but the war on poverty has been a colossal disaster. All it’s succeeded in doing is creating a big government that is dependent upon dependent people. It has destroyed the nuclear family and pushed the African-American community into a never-ending cycle of dependency and despair.

Liberty creates the opportunity individuals need to improve their lives. However, liberty is a zero-sum proposition. The more power the government has, the less liberty the people have. The less liberty the people have, the fewer opportunities, they have to improve their lives. An individual’s opportunity to improve their life decreases, as their dependence upon the state increases. The more dependent upon government we become, the less free we are, and the less free we are, the worse our lives become.

If Colin Kaepernick wants to kneel down during the National Anthem to protest the injustices going on in America, he needs to do it while he still has the opportunity.

The Big Lie

“Trust me, put your faith in me, and I’ll make your life better!” That’s the big lie. The lie people tell when they want power. It’s what Lenin told the Russians, Hitler told the Germans, and what every politician whoever sought public office has told the voters. The liar’s intent doesn’t matter. It could be benevolent or sinister, what makes the lie so convincing, is that the people telling the lie actually, believe it.

When Vladimir Lenin formed the Communist Party and overthrew the Czar, he believed it was going to improve the lives of the Russian peasants. He never envisioned that his party would one-day murder 20-million of its own people. Or when Adolf Hitler became the leader of Germany, as evil as he was, he didn’t intend to plunge the world into war and destroy his own country. It just doesn’t work that way.

History is full of dreamers and schemers that are going to change the world. They mesmerize and beguile with the promise of creating a utopia on earth.  And we willingly accept the lie because they passionately and sincerely believe what they’re saying.

So what happens? Why can’t these liars deliver on their promise? Well, Christian theology calls it Original Sin, but most everyone else knows it as human nature.

Putting your trust and faith in another human being, or a human institution is generally not a good idea. Giving government more power and control over your life, has never in the history of mankind worked out well for the people. No matter how noble the intentions, no matter how alluring the promises, no matter how plausible the policies, it will not in the long run benefit the people. It will however, benefit those in power.

Programs created to help people become more self-reliant, instead create dependence. Policies designed to improve education, only guarantee mediocrity. Government agencies formed to safeguard the homeland produce a labyrinth of bureaucracy that endangers its citizens.

It works this way not because the people who run these programs are bad or evil. It works this way because the people who run these programs are people. It’s inherent in our human nature. We will automatically and subconsciously, do the things that benefit us personally.  When given the choice between completing the job and keeping the gravy train going, we’ll choose to keep the gravy train going. That’s why government agencies never end, and why government programs never solve the problems they’re intended to solve.

The truth, is that no human being, or human institution is worthy of our trust and faith. The Founding Fathers understood this; that’s why they set the country up as a Republic where the rule of law reigns supreme over a monarch or a president.  That’s why they separated the branches of government, and most importantly, that’s why they guaranteed the freedom of religion.

Our individual free-will is the key to our freedom and prosperity. No political party or politician, and no policy or program can give it to us.  We must choose it for ourselves. We must make the conscious decision to take the talents and gifts God has given us, and use them to improve our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the community and country in which we live. The only one truly worthy of our trust and faith is God, because God is the source of both our free-will and freedom. That’s why totalitarian states suppress religion.  They don’t want the people to be dependent upon God. They want the people dependent upon the state because that’s how they secure their power.  God’s the competition, and it’s better for them to eliminate the competition.

For the past fifty-years, liberals have been telling the American people, “Trust me, put your faith in me, and I’ll make your life better.”  It started in 1965 with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. “Give those who don’t have a little more,” and end poverty in America. That was the promise. However, five decades and 22-trillion dollars later, the poverty rate remains at fourteen percent, and for some, things have actually gotten worse.

Today, seventy-five percent of African Americans are born out-of-wedlock, and forty-seven percent live in households that receive means-tested benefits. The percent of black men in the workforce has dropped from eighty-one percent in 1965 to just sixty-seven percent in 2015. And in America, a black person is eight times more likely to be killed than a white person, and ninety-four percent of those killed are killed by another black person.

The truth is that the prospects for a young black person growing up in the inner cities of America are abysmal. Their neighborhoods are infested with drugs, gangs and violence. Their public schools are appalling failures. They have no education, no marketable skills, and little or no hope of improving their lot in life. Even the election of the country’s first African-American President in 2008, hasn’t provided any real hope and change. They are part of an entitlement class that is permanently and terminally dependent upon the government. They bought the lie, and are now entrapped by it.

What do we do when we discover that we’ve been lied to? We get angry. We strike-out and try to extract our vengeance on those who have taken advantage of us. But when the lie is this big, and this intricately woven, who do you go after? Well, the liars are never going to admit the lie because they still believe it’s true. So, who do you blame? Enter the scapegoat, the lie wrapped inside the lie, the convenient way to redefine the truth, absolve yourself of responsibility, and continue the lie. “Hands up don’t shoot!”

“Wir wussten nicht!”

On April 26, 1981, Dr. Michael Harrison performed the world’s first fetal surgery at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. Dr. Harrison and his team inserted a catheter into a fetus to relieve a urinary tract blockage that was threatening to damage the baby’s kidneys. The procedure revolutionized the treatment of prenatal birth defects, and Dr. Harrison is regarded as the “Father of Fetal Surgery.”

Since that first pioneering procedure, the field of fetal surgery has continued to evolve. Today, there are over 20 hospitals across the country performing fetal surgery to repair heart and lung damage, remove life-threatening tumors, and give unborn babies a chance at a quality of life that was previously unimaginable. A University of Texas study evaluating the impact of fetal surgery to repair spinal bifida, a debilitating condition that causes permanent paralysis, concluded the surgery doubles the chances a child will one day be able to walk normally. And the future of fetal surgery holds even more promise. Scientists are currently researching in utero stem cell treatments and gene therapies that may eliminate diseases in unborn children before the debilitating symptoms even appear.

The genius of people like Dr. Harrison is amazing, and their commitment to the dignity of human life is inspiring. They are remarkable people that make us proud to live in a society that invests hundreds of millions of dollars to protect and improve the lives of its unborn children. Truly, we have created a culture that’s the envy of the civilized world. However, before we go patting ourselves on the back consider this; the hospital that performed the world’s first fetal surgery also performs abortions. In one operating room, you could have a team of surgeons working feverishly to patch a hole in the spine of an unborn baby, while across the hall; they remove and dispose of an unwanted fetus.

How do you reconcile this hypocrisy? What criteria is used to decide what child lives and what child dies? Is it as simple as one child is wanted and the other one isn’t? Is it because one mother sees some utility or value in the life of her unborn, while the other sees only a responsibility and burden? Does it really come down to the perceived value of a particular life? Is the mother the sole arbitrator of that value, or is there some fundamental value inherent in every human life? These are not rhetorical questions. They are the questions that absolutely define a culture.

Pro-choice advocates will argue that these questions don’t apply to the abortion debate because a fetus isn’t technically a human being, and because it isn’t human, it doesn’t possess any human rights. Furthermore, whatever rights a fetus does have, if any, they do not supersede a woman’s right to choose.

Does a fetus have rights, and if it does, what are they? Well, as a minimum, a fetus must have the right to life simply because it’s alive. It takes in nourishment, metabolizes energy and grows, and is therefore, a living organism. And all living organisms, at some fundamental level, have a right to life. But is a fetus a human life? It’s of human origin and contains human DNA, so yes, it is a human life. In fact, it is an unborn child. So, the dilemma is how to balance the right to life of an unborn child against that of a woman’s right to choose. However, in order to do that, someone must assign a value to the life of the unborn child, and this is what pro-choice advocates want. They want the right to assign a value to human life.

So, the question remains; is there a fundamental value inherent in every human life, or do human beings have the right to determine that value?

It’s a self-evident truth that all human beings are created equal. Meaning, there is no such thing as a natural aristocracy. No one has the right to assign a value to another human life. Our value as human beings is not dependent upon our parentage, ethnicity, race or any other factor. We possess an equally immeasurable and infinite value by virtue of the fact that we are all human beings. It is a universal truth that applies equally to everyone, everywhere, even to those in the womb.

There will always be people who will deny this truth, and insist that they have the prerogative to assign a value to someone else’s life. Mao, Starlin, Hitler, Tojo, and Pol Pot are a few of the twentieth-century despots who believed this, and murdered more than 150 million people. Of course, pro-choice advocates insist that abortion is different! Is it different because the Nazis used box cars and chlorine gas to dispose of their unwanted, while we use clinics and fetal forceps? Or is it because it was an official policy of the Nazi regime that justified the killing, while here it’s only a Supreme Court Decision?

In the spring of 1945, after six long years of war, the Allied Armies entered Germany and liberated the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau, unveiling the true evil of the Nazi regime. Outraged by the horrors they discovered, the Allies demanded an explanation from the German civilians living in these towns. The only answered they could muster was, “Wir wussten nicht!” (We didn’t know!) Infuriated by the façade of ignorance, military commanders paraded the civilians through the death camps, and forced them to bury the dead. General Eisenhower ordered film crews to document the atrocities “because somewhere down the track of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.”

Somewhere down the track of history the abortion debate will be decided, and it will be the truth and not opinion that will prevail. An unborn child is either a human being or it isn’t, and either all human life has value or it doesn’t. However, whenever that verdict is rendered, we won’t be able to claim, “Wir wussten nicht!”

Nicaea

In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor was becoming concerned. Arguments between Christian sects had become violent and were threatening to disrupt the Empire. The Emperor Constantine intervened, and ordered the 300 Christian Bishops to meet and resolve their doctrinal differences. The First Council of Nicaea was the first ecumenical council of the Church, and resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. More importantly, it quelled the disputes and restored peace to the Christian world, a peace that would last for twelve-hundred years, and continues today.

If God exists, couldn’t he reveal himself to whomever he wanted in whatever manner he wanted? And maybe that’s what he’s done over the centuries to Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, and countless others? And if God is universal, unchanging and fixed, wouldn’t his truths be universal, unchanging and fixed?

The great religions of the world all claim to teach God’s truths. So, if God exists, and his truths are unchanging and fixed, any fundamental disagreement regarding these truths must be the result of a faulty interpretation of those truths. For any religion to be truly great, it must have some element of the divine truth within it. At some level then, there must be some common truth that exists within the great faiths of the world, and of course there is. It is the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Eighty-one percent of the world’s population subscribes to a religious belief that promotes the Golden Rule. So, if eighty-one percent of the world’s population subscribes to a religion that promotes the Golden Rule, why is there so much animus and conflict between the faiths, and within certain religions? It is because people neither understand nor practice what they claim to believe.

In 1979, Radical Islam seized the US Embassy in Tehran taking fifty-two Americans hostage. It was their first salvo in their war with the West. San Bernardino and Paris are the inevitable next phase of that conflict. However, Radical Islam’s war with Western Civilization is in reality an expansion of a Muslim sectarian conflict that has been raging for centuries. The on-going war between Sunnis and Shiites has created an extremist ideology of intolerance and hate. It has pitted Muslim against Muslim, and the extremist against anyone who opposes their brand of fascism. Ninety percent of the people killed by Radical Islam are Muslim.

The time has come for another Council of Nicaea. The major religions of the world should convene their own ecumenical council and issue a uniformed doctrine of belief that reasserts the Golden Rule, and reaffirms the self-evident truths put forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to live free from slavery, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the right to work, the right to marry and raise a family, and equal protection under civil law. Any religion or interpretation of a faith that is unable, or unwilling to issue such a doctrine, is an illegitimate interpretation of the divine truth.

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the King of Saudi Arabia, the head of the House of Saud, and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. They are the two holiest places within Islam and the center of the Muslim world. King Salman needs to be a modern-day Constantine. He needs to convene an ecumenical council of the five major Islamic sects, and issue a unified doctrine of belief that will end the sectarian conflict. If he doesn’t, the war will continue to expand until the Western powers are no longer willing to distinguish between the radical and peaceful Muslims. The clash of civilizations will continue to expand until one, or both civilizations are destroyed.

“The Judgements of the Lord”

March 4, 1865 started as a gloomy and overcast day, but no amount of rain or mud could dampen the spirits of those assembled in Washington for the second inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln. Four long years of civil war had taken its toll on the nation, and although one and a half-million Americans lie dead or wounded; this was a day of celebration. The Union armies were on the march, the Confederacy was in retreat, and the end of the war was in sight. As thousands gathered on the mall awaiting the appearance of their Commander in Chief, they speculated about the contents of his address. Many expected to hear about the progress of the war and the inevitable victory, while others expected him to pay tribute to those who had sacrificed to preserve the Union. Some wanted to know his plans for reconstruction and reunification, and others pondered what he’d say about emancipation and the end of slavery. Although most heard what they expected, few, heard what they wanted.

Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address ranks among the greatest speeches in American history. It’s only seven hundred words long and took less than seven minutes to deliver, but its eloquence is unequaled. Although Lincoln considered it his best speech, it’s not a speech one would expect to hear from a sitting President because it was more of a homily than a speech. As Fredrick Douglas described, “it was a sacred effort, more like a sermon than like a state paper.” In the brevity of the address, Lincoln mentions God fourteen times, quotes scripture four times and invokes prayer three times. It is a truly remarkable speech, something that is unimaginable today.  However, more startling than Lincoln’s invocation of the Almighty, is the content of his message.

In order to appreciate the significance of Lincoln’s Address, you need to understand the context in which it was delivered. One out of every twenty people living in the United States was either killed or wounded during the Civil War. Today, that would equate to fifteen and a half million Americans dead or wounded. There wasn’t a person living in the country, or assembled on the mall that day, that hadn’t suffered a loss. However, knowing this, Lincoln told the American people that we had reaped what we had sown. At the heart of his message was the assertion that the war was God’s punishment for the sin of slavery. That is truly astonishing! Can you imagine the President of the United States standing before the American people, telling them that their pain and suffering was divine retribution for their immorality? Where would Lincoln get such an idea?

Lincoln studied the Bible and was familiar with the divine retribution of the Old Testament, where God brought punishment upon the wicked, like in the great flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomora, and the ten plagues of Egypt. He also studied history and understood the retribution that befalls decadent and corrupt societies, like the collapse of the Babylonian and Greek Empires, and the fall of Rome. Lincoln was a practical and pragmatic politician and selected his words very carefully. He knew that his message would not be well received, but delivered it because he believed it to be true.

Is Lincoln right, does God smite the sinful and the wicked? It would be difficult to argue the divine retribution of the Old Testament; earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods are natural phenomena, and not the acts of an angry deity. However, the premise that corrupt and decadent nations tend to self-destruct, deserves consideration. During the twentieth-century, both Germany and Japan pursued ideologies of evil until the righteous of the world rose up to destroy them, and the Soviet Union oppressed half of Europe, but eventually imploded under the weight of its own depravity. So history tends to support Lincoln’s premise. Whether or not it’s divine retribution, or merely the natural consequence of corruption is a matter of perspective.

A recent Gallup poll indicates that seventy-five percent of Americans believe their government is corrupt, and that society’s morals and ethics are declining. Surveys indicate that most Americans have been dissatisfied with the direction the country has been moving in since the early seventies. So what happened during that period to create this sense of pessimism? First, was Watergate, and second was Roe vs. Wade.

Watergate shattered the American people’s faith in government. Richard Nixon abused the power of his office by using the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Internal Revenue Service to target and harass his political adversaries, and committed a felony when he destroyed evidence and obstructed justice. Eventually, he was forced to resign when the American people demanded his removal, and Congress threatened him with impeachment.

In Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy up until viability, the point at which the unborn child could potentially live outside the mother’s womb. This ruling reshaped the American political spectrum by dividing the nation and driving people into either the pro-choice, or pro-life camps. Pro-choice advocates argue that prior to viability, an unborn child is not a human being and therefore, not entitled to the protection of the state, and that its right to life cannot supersede the woman’s right to choose. Pro-life advocates argue the opposite. Of course, what camp is right depends upon when human life actually begins, but unfortunately, no one knows with absolute certainty, just when that occurs.

We know that the human gestation period is forty weeks long, and that at five weeks the baby’s heart begins to beat, at six weeks, it has facial features, and at ten weeks, its vital organs begin to function. At fifteen weeks the baby can see light, at sixteen weeks, ultrasound can determine its sex, and at twenty weeks, it reaches viability. Viability was initially at twenty-eight weeks, but advancements in medicine have reduced that period. So again, no one knows with absolute certainty when human life begins. However, we do know with absolute certainty, that at the moment of conception; human DNA is present, and that the process of life has begun, and that when you terminate that process, you terminate a life that’s progressing.

It’s estimated that there have been more than fifty-million abortions performed in the United States since Roe vs. Wade. If human life actually begins at conception, then we are guilty of a mass murder that is five-times greater than the Nazi holocaust. I don’t know what divine retribution we’d face, but “as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

The Law of Unintended Consequences


Fritz Haber was born in 1868 to an affluent Jewish family in Breslau, Prussia. His father owned a pharmaceutical and paint business. However, Fritz wasn’t interested in the family business. He studied chemistry in college and received a doctorate from Friedrich Wilhelm University in 1891. While teaching at the University of Leipzig, he teamed up with Carl Bosch and invented the Haber-Bosch process of making ammonia. It’s considered a breakthrough in industrial chemistry because it’s the process used to manufacture the synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which helps produce half of the world’s food supply. For his work, Fritz Haber was awarded the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Occasionally, something that at first seems wonderful, a significant breakthrough or accomplishment, can turn out to be something that has disastrous side-affects. It’s called the law of unintended consequences.

On June 26, 2015, Justice Anthony Kennedy issued the majority opinion granting same-sex couples the right to marry. Obviously, the decision was heralded by the LBGT community as a major victory. Their response to the last paragraph of his ruling is particularly noteworthy; many calling it beautiful, eloquent, and even poetic. The problem, however, is that Anthony Kennedy is not a poet. He’s a Supreme Court Justice.

As a judge, Kennedy should have limited his ruling to the legal aspects of marriage. He could have established the legal definition of marriage as a civil contract between two individuals, a lawful union which is recognized by the State and entitles the spouses to certain protections under-the-law regarding: taxation; inheritance and property rights, as well as other spousal privileges. He then could have argued that the right to enter into a civil contract is protected by the Constitution, and cannot be infringed upon by the State. He could have, but he didn’t.

Justice Kennedy’s opinion goes well beyond a legal definition of marriage. His 28 page brief delves into the philosophical, theological, social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of marriage. It’s an all-encompassing definition that will be litigated in courts for decades. He has sown the seeds for what is certain to be an all-out assault on the First Amendment, and potentially given the State unlimited authority to insert itself into the private lives of its citizens.

Kennedy defines marriage as a keystone of social order, an institution that safeguards children and families. What happens if a marriage fails to live up to that definition? If a dysfunctional marriage creates an unhealthy environment for children, does the state have the right, or even obligation to nullify it? He continued, defining marriage as an enduring bond, which promotes the freedoms of; expression, intimacy, spirituality, and is critical to the right of self-identification. It’s a wonderful sentiment, but the State does not have the authority to establish the reasons for why people get married, or to question their motives? Are we going to have the State administer a compatibility-test to ensure that people enter into marriage with only the most noble and unselfish intentions?

A marriage, like any relationship, is unique to the individuals who enter into it. It’s up to the individuals themselves to determine the emotional, philosophical or spiritual significance of their union. It is not within the purview of the Court to define that for anybody. Kennedy overstepped his authority, and although briefly touched upon the First Amendment, failed to adequately differentiate between a legal marriage, and the sacrament of marriage.

The sacramental rite of marriage, how it is defined and who is eligible to receive it, is something that belongs exclusively to the Church. Each faith must define the sacrament within the context of its own theology. Catholic theology states that a marriage is a union between a man, a woman and God. It is a sacred and holy union because it is the union through which God brings forth new life into creation. The Church instituted the sacrament of marriage in order to recognize God’s presence in the union, and his role in the creation of life. The sacrament is not exclusionary and does not discriminate against anyone. It simply acknowledges what the Catholic Church believes to be the fundamental truth of creation.

Because Justice Kennedy’s opinion strayed from the legal definition of marriage and ventured into a spiritual definition, he has paved the way for a showdown between Church and State. There are groups within this country that despise organized religion and want to eradicate it from our culture. It is inevitable; law-suits will be filed to force churches to perform same-sex marriages. Today, military chaplains are being coerced into performing same-sex marriages that are contrary to the teachings of their faith.

Justice Kennedy has fractured the separation between Church and State that has protected the rights of believers and non-believers for more than two centuries. The State does not recognize an annulment as legally binding, and the Catholic Church does not recognize a divorce as spiritually binding. However, the Church is obligated to, and does recognize the legality of divorce, and complies with the dictates of civil law. Justice Kennedy’s opinion blurs this separation and threatens the protections guaranteed to us by the First Amendment.

It’s possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason, and for the Court to render the right decision with the wrong opinion. Now, it’s up to history to decide how Justice Kennedy’s opinion will be viewed.

Fritz Haber won the 1918 Nobel Prize but actually didn’t receive the award until 1919. Europe was at war, and he was unable to travel to Stockholm to accept the award. In addition to the title of “Nobel Laureate,” Fritz Haber also enjoys the title of “Father of Chemical Warfare.” He developed the chlorine gas weapons used by the German army in World War I, and personally supervised their deployment on the battlefield. The Nazis built upon Haber’s work to develop the Zyklon-B gas that killed 1.5 million of his fellow Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald.

“Don’t Shoot the Messenger!”

In 69 BC, as the Roman General Lucius Lucullus advanced on the city of Tigranocerta with an army of 40,000 legionnaires, a messenger was dispatched to warn King Tigranes of the approaching danger. Tigranes was so upset by the news that he drew his sword and beheaded the messenger. Thus supposedly, is the origin of the phrase, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” However, there are others who credit Shakespeare with first having penned the phrase. Regardless of its origin, it is clearly a metaphor used to describe the human tendency to lash out at people we believe are bearers of bad news.

In April 2013, the Jackson City Middle School in Ohio was ordered to remove a portrait of Jesus that had been hanging in its Hall of Heroes since 1947. The American Civil Liberties Union had filed suit against the school, and the Superintendent didn’t want to incur the cost of a federal lawsuit. Regardless of the reason, might it not be another case of shooting the messenger?

Determining the appropriateness of displaying Jesus’ image in a public school is difficult, because he is both a religious and historical figure. Jesus the Christ is a religious figure because he is regarded by Christians as a deity; the second person of the Trinitarian God. Christians believe that he is God made man, who by his death and resurrection conquered sin, destroyed death and reconciled all of mankind to God the Father. And if we limited our examination of Jesus to this viewpoint, we might rightly conclude that hanging his portrait in a public school is inappropriate. However, Jesus was also a very real historical figure.

Jesus of Nazareth was a Rabbi, and arguably the greatest teacher who has ever lived. He taught tolerance, inclusion and diversity, and introduced the concept of human equality to the world. Even Friedrich Nietzsche, the nineteenth century German philosopher and atheist, who espoused that “God is dead,” credits the Christian concept of the ‘equality of souls before God,’ as the prototype of all theories of all human and civil rights. Of course Nietzsche the official philosopher of Nazism, was mocking the Christian doctrine of egalitarianism.

Christian egalitarianism asserts that all human beings; regardless of race, gender, religion, or ethnicity are created equal, and are endowed with the same inalienable human rights. It is the doctrine on which Jefferson based the Declaration of Independence, and on which the United States was established. It is what we refer to as a self-evident truth; a truth first revealed to the world by Jesus of Nazareth.

So in the context of human history, in terms of influencing the development of western civilization, could one not make the case for recognizing the impact of Jesus of Nazareth? Might it not be appropriate to hang his portrait alongside Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Lock and the other great minds of western civilization? I think you could make the case.

Why then is Jesus’ image so objectionable to so many secularist and progressives? Aren’t these the very same people who supposedly embrace and promote the very egalitarian virtues of tolerance, inclusion and diversity that Jesus first taught? That answer might be found in a closer examination of his teachings.

Integral to the teachings of Jesus is the concept of sin. To Jesus, sin isn’t just breaking the rules, or doing something wrong. Sin is a condition of the human heart, a fundamental flaw in human nature that drives a wedge between man and God, separating him from the very source of his life. The effects of sin are death and decay, for both the individual committing the sin, and the society that harbors it. It is a universal sickness that infects everybody and every culture, and something that must be healed. And this is where many people take issue with Jesus.

No one likes being told that they’re wrong, or that there is something wrong with them, no matter how true or warranted the criticism may be. Think about it, most of us can’t stand being told that we’re wrong. We get angry, defensive, obstinate and sometimes even belligerent. It’s almost a physiological response that we can’t control. “No one’s going to tell me what I can or cannot do,” or the new mantra of liberalism, “Who are you to judge me?” It’s the plague of our human egos, and unfortunately the bigger the ego, the more volatile the response.

Now consider the liberalism that began to emerge in the United States in the nineteen sixties, and now has a death grip on the American culture. In liberalism, everything is relative to the individual; “What’s right for you is right for you, and what’s right for me is right for me.” There are no longer any universal norms, morality is dependent upon who you are, where you were raised and what you were taught. There is no more right and wrong, if you can justify it in your own mind, then its ok. Contrast that arrogance to teachings that emphasized humility and piety, and you can understand the secular-progressive’s unwillingness to embrace the Nazarene.

However, morality is not relative, and the world works the way it works, because it works. The cultures that are hardworking and virtuous tend to succeed and flourish, while those that a decadent and corrupt tend to decay and collapse. And no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that self-evident truth.

Despite Tigranes’ arrogance and unwillingness to accept the bearer of bad news, he couldn’t avoid the inevitable. Lucius Lucullus defeated the Armenian army and lay siege to the capital of Tigranocerta. The city eventually fell and the legionnaires literally deconstructed the city, plundering it of its wealth, power and prestige.