Houston We Have A Problem
by Roberta Franklin
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OK-the title is a bit obscure, but let me explain. I love to laugh, and what tickles me the most are the foibles of being human. Walt Disney's "Rocket Man" movie opens with a scene of a prodigious child who wants to be an astronaut shutting himself in a dryer with a glass portal and pretending to be in orbit around the earth, which is a picture he has pasted within view of the window. As he spins around and around he cries out, "Houston, we have a problem," then "I want my mommy!" We are so much like that little child prodigy, climbing blindly into the dryer of life and shutting the door, forgetting that all we need do is push to get out, or in this case of my warped metaphor, THINK.
We have got a problem, a very real problem. "What is it?" one may ask, (or may not, which is indeed part of the problem.) For the most part, we are not people who use our brains for anything other than entertainment. We simply don't think, we react. We respond. We reiterate, rejoin, rebut, reply, but we do not think for ourselves. Two recent inbox correspondences spurred me to this philosophical commentary.
The first, a subscription to an RSS feed from Yahoo!News. The newly elected governor of Alabama, in church following his inaugural, commented that those who are "born again of the Holy Spirit" are indeed his true brothers and sisters. He went on to say it was his desire that all men and women be his "brothers and sisters," and if memory serves that would include those of every nation, tongue, and creed. The media response to his remarks was so ignorant as to be stupefying. The comments recorded regarded primarily a "violation of First Amendment rights of non-evangelical Christians," and the use of public office to promote the Governor's personal "religion."
Lest I misquote by paraphrasing;
""His comments are not only offensive, but also raise serious questions as to whether non-Christians can expect to receive equal treatment during his tenure as governor," said Bill Nigut, the ADL's regional director."" [The acronym ADL is the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.]
"Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, told The Birmingham News, he wasn't sure how Bentley's remarks were intended."Does it mean that those who according to him are not saved are less important than those who are saved?" Taufique said. "Does he want those of us who do not belong to the Christian faith to adopt his faith? That should be toned down. That's not what we need. If he means that, I hope he changes it. We don't want evangelical politicians. They can be whatever in their private life."" ( Yahoo! News, 1/19/2011 Associated Press Writer Bob Johnson in Montgomery contributed to this report/Birmingham News 1/19/11 for complete article)
The abject ignorance of remarks such as these quoted above is passed from one buffoon to another as easily as an urban legend, without any serious consideration. Were one to think for a moment, one would realize the diatribe against Governor Bentley violating the First Amendment during his speech at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church, was in itself an attempt to violate Governor Bentley's First Amendment right to free speech.
They would further realize that the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights (that extends to every United States American, including non-citizens within our borders) guarantees "...freedom OF religion" and "...freedom OF speech", not "from religion" and "from speech." Which fact is exactly why Mr. Nigut and Mr. Taufique receive such great press for their ignorance--they are in good company.
Unlike Mr. Taufique's Islam, whose adherents are commanded to remove infidels from the face of the earth (that they might suffer a miserable eternity in hell having their skin melted away."Sura 22:19-20 Qur'an), Christians are commanded to love. Jesus said, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:34,35 NLT) In short, Governor Bentley's desire that all men and women be part of his "family" was the simple expression of his Christian faith (not religion), his desire to be known to the world as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Again, unlike Islam, participation in true Christianity is by choice, not demand. The Prophet Mohammed speaks in Sura 60:9 of the Qur'an saying in reference to Jews and Christians (and unfaithful Muslims),"God forbids you to take them for friends and guardians. Whoever takes them for friends and guardians, those are the wrongdoers." Consideration of even these brief yet representative expressions of two very different faiths, might cause one to consider that Mr. Nigut of the ADL should be more concerned that Governor Bentley does live out his true faith (by desiring that all men love one another) than that he join with Mr. Taufique in wanting the Governor to keep his faith at home.
The second correspondence spurring this commentary is a forward email from a very dear and beloved Christian friend. The email is a mishmash of comments from several different authors and attributed, this time around, to Andy Rooney, the well-known commentator who closes the 60 Minutes program on CBS. (It may be read for yourself at: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/prayer.asp ) It is an urban legend, as foolish as the Procter and Gamble debacle that somehow began circulating as early as 1979,(sorry-not on the internet Mr. Gore), by fax and mimeographed distribution to churches, religious organizations and schools of all denominations. Well meaning priests, preachers, church secretaries and yes, even public school teachers disseminated the lie that:
"Proctor and Gamble's CEO, Mr. __________, announced on the ________________ show that he was coming out of the closet to confirm that his company (proof- the P&G logo)donated a large portion of their profit to the church of Satan." I inserted blanks where the opening sentence changed according to the year. (http://www.snopes.com/business/alliance/procter.asp)
When I receive forwarded email, or read some foolishness in a news report it is my responsibility to think it through. It is the responsibility of every human being to use the practical common sense, and reasoning abilities that set us apart from other warm-blooded creatures. I want to yell, "STOP AND THINK!"
Christians, those of you who are truly "followers of Jesus Christ", get to know His Word so that when the media reports comments from individuals like Mr. Nigut, or Mr. Taufique you know the foolishness of what they are saying and have an answer to give for the hope that is in you. If you know the truth, if it is settled in your heart, you will not be deceived. Secondly, get to know His Word so that you will know what your responsibilities as His followers are, and whether you are truly what you profess to be. A duck can call itself a goose any time it is convenient, but when the eggs hatch, its still a duck.
If you are, or want to be, an American find out what it means. What are your rights, really--rights that belong to ALL of us in this country, even the politically incorrect. If we do not begin to THINK through what we read, hear, and are taught, we will continue to agreeably swallow the detritus promulgated by a very shallow minded media, religion, or political party, and we will be herded like lemmings over the cliff of our own stupidity. Worse yet, we will deserve our fate.
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Very timely - we are getting into an even crazier era than the last one.... the era where "men will be lovers of self...." and where after giving them opportunity after opportunity God will finally allow them to believe the lie/delusion because they rejected His truth for so long. I think some of this total ignorance is a manifestation of those scriptures. You wrote this so well. I have only one request.... how about some more poems too this week? Hugs, Marijo