Question of the week

Some of the recent sparring has given me an idea. There’s just enough diversity here that it might prove interesting. I’m thinking that it might be amusing if I were to pose a question of the week challenging the precepts of a given ideology or position, then only allow those who subscribe to said position to answer it in the comments that day. The following day, I would post a response which everyone could then pile onto as they wished.

A) does this sound amusing?

B) if so, what day of the week should we do it? Not Mondays or Tuesdays, I think, since that’s filled up with responses to the column. Weekends tend to be slower, which is both good and bad.

Anyhow, let me know what you all think. We can always try it out and then bag it if it gets too repetitive or acrimonious. And do please note that it is generally considered bad form to call your host a liar, a hellspawn or a Green Bay Packers fan.

The problem of evil

The president of VQPF, the Zinkster his own gay self, wrote: The Bible? The Bible is a beautifully written work of fiction. I always wonder where was this caring, all powerful God or Supreme Being when the Nazis were in power? When slavery was taking place? Where was he? Or she? Or it? On a coffee break.

This is a variant of the oft-asked question of why bad things happen to good people. It is a significant question, and indeed, a major stumbling block to me in the years before I became Christian. Now, before I address this question, it is important to understand a few things. I am not a theologian and I am not particularly well-versed in theology. I postulate that human understanding cannot fully comprehend or explain God, and so my conclusions are, at best, barely educated guesses. I do not know the fullness of the truth and neither does any other human being, past or present, with one notable exception. The fact that [your favorite theologian or philosopher here] once said something proves nothing definitively. In other words, argue with me all you like, but there’s no point in getting upset about it – save that for something on which we can have a more substantive debate.

With that out of the way, let me state that I believe the common Christian notion that God is in complete control of the world, that He has a specific plan for our individual lives, that He guides our every step and orchestrates every incident we encounter is one of the most Satanically damaging concepts ever invented by the forces of darkness. I believe that this notion is logically and Biblically flawed, and has an evil effect on both Christians and nonbelievers alike. My reasoning is as follows:

1. Neither omnipotence nor omniscience imply omniderigence, or to put it more casually, uber control freakdom. If you inquire as to why most Christians believe that God is in control, they will state that He is all-powerful and all-knowing and has made the Heavens and the Earth. They sometimes cite the verse relating to knowledge of sparrows. But knowing when a sparrow falls does not imply striking it dead, nor does the possession of power indicate its use. Nor does making something imply active maintenance – does Toyota change your oil?

2. Jesus Christ would not have taught us to pray that God’s Will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, unless God’s Will was not being done here on Earth.

3. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament where Israel and others go against God’s Will. Therefore, it is possible for humans to act in opposition to God, without him dictating their actions. Furthermore, the very notion of Lucifer’s Fall indicates strongly that God is not in control of all things.

4. Jesus Christ does not argue with Satan when Satan offers him the nations of the world. Instead, he rejects the offer. The clear implication is that the nations of the world were Satan’s to give. This is supported by Jesus and Paul’s later references to the god of this world being distinct from the God that is the Heavenly Father.

5. Jesus Christ says that Satan has no hold on him, presumably because he has not sinned. Therefore, Satan does have a hold on everyone who has sinned, namely, the rest of us on the planet.

6. Jesus Christ’s command to follow his own example of healing the sick and raising the dead indicates that neither sickness or death are God’s Will for individual humans or humanity as a whole.

7. For reasons beyond our ken, God requires humans to act as conduits for acting on this planet. This is why Satan hates Christians so passionately, as they represent the beachhead of divine power which will eventually overthrow his rule of this fallen world.

Based on these and other reasons, I have concluded that it is a massive error to blame God for evils such as National Socialism, slavery and the designated hitter. These are human creations, enthusiastically cheered on by the reigning ruler of the planet, who seeks nothing less than the total destruction of mankind. About 18 months ago, I wrote an article entitled Satan, Science and the Supernatural, in which I pointed out that Satan is not only evil, but he is a deceiver. And what deception could be more useful than to lead people into believing that all the evil of the world is caused by the only power that can ameliorate their suffering?

In summary, I believe that these evils exist because the world is ruled by a sadistic supernatural serial killer who is vehemently opposed to God. Only those who turn to Jesus Christ have the ability to stand against this terrible usurper and his minions, which is why despite all of the many shortcomings of the Christian church, some of the greatest evils of the world have been brought to an end – temporarily, I suspect – by Christians, including the two examples that you cited.

This is why prayer matters, why faith is so massively important, and why Jesus Christ said his sacrifice would set us free. My understanding is without question incomplete, but I believe that it is more in accordance with both the world and the Word than the shallow, ominously-smiling Sunday School teaching that God wants little Bobby to go through chemo, little Susy to be born addicted to heroin and little Schmuly to die in a gas chamber because it’s good for them. Where was God? My guess – and that’s all it is – is that He was watching with tears in His eyes and waiting for someone to stand in the gap between Divine Heaven and Fallen Earth to be a conduit for His power to end the evil.

Notes – I know that the atheist Soviet Union helped defeat the National Socialists. I am also aware that slavery continues, and that it is permitted in the Bible. However, divorce was also permitted, even though Jesus said that God hates it. Which again suggests that God is not omniderigent.

It is still good to hate the French

French cinema chains are refusing to distribute or screen Mel Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion of the Christ” because of fears it will spark a new outbreak of anti-Semitism. France is the only European country where there is still no distribution deal for the film.

Fears of a new outbreak, right. I can just imagine the discussion:

Jean-Claude: “Mon ami, vee cannot show zis film. The Jews, they are zee villains. The New York Times, it said zee movie is anti-semitic!”

Pierre: “Who is zis Mel Gibson? It is the right of zee French people to hate zee Jews in zee proper French way! No American will tell us why vee should hate zee Jews and zeir shitty little country!

It’s worth remembering that while the Italians did their best to obstruct the occupying Germans and prevent them from rounding up Jews during World War II – so that more than 80 percent of Italy’s Jews survived – unoccupied Vichy France rounded up 70,000 Jews starting in July, 1942 and sent them to the concentration camps on their own initiative. France was not the worst collaborator with the Endlosung, but their record is such that I strongly suspect French opposition to showing The Passion of the Christ stems more from the French people’s anti-clerical and anti-Christian tendencies than any tender concerns for Jewish sensibilities.

I don’t actually hate the French – it’s an expression. My college roommate before moving in with WB and BC was French and my girlfriend at the time was a Parisian. I do, however, hate Rousseauism and the Revolution!

Attack at all costs

Richard Corliss writes in TIME: Rooney had a question of his own for Gibson: “How many million dollars does it look as if you’re going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?” As Bart Simpson would say, that’s funny for so many reasons. Only a few weeks ago, movie insiders were confidently predicting that Gibson, whose “Passion” was rejected by every major studio, would lose his hairshirt over this movie—the $30 million of his own money it took to produce, plus another bundle for prints and advertising. Now that the film has registered the highest opening-day midweek gross of any non-sequel in North American box office history, Gibson’s supposed to be a panderer, pimping Christ’s suffering to audiences who didn’t realize they needed to see their personal Redeemer get scourged for the longer part of two hours.

Not only is this an interesting article defending Mel Gibson and The Passion of the Christ from an unlikely source, but it also has a great line: “a liberal is someone who will defend to the death your right to agree with him.”

Lavender is a color of the Left

A Harris Poll released Feb. 18 paints a picture of a homosexual community that is small, largely wealthy and highly political. According to the poll of 748 homosexuals, 87 percent are registered voters and 76 percent are “absolutely certain” to vote in November. However, few were inclined to support Mr. Bush. Only 7 percent described themselves as “conservative,” while 53 percent said they were “liberal” and 40 percent “moderate.” Only 11 percent were registered Republicans, while 62 percent said they are Democrats. Twenty-seven percent said they are independent.

I’m not surprised, but I find it interesting that homosexuals would prove to be almost as attracted to the Left as college professors and newspaper editors. It reminds me of that White Town song, where the one line “So much for all your highbrow Marxist ways” painted such a vivid image of some intellectually pretentious but poorly read homosexuals of my acquaintance that it made me laugh the first time I heard it.

The irony is that the powerful government machinery required by Leftist philosophy usually gets turned against homosexuals when the Left actually takes complete control. Centralized societies run by faceless bureaucrats tend to be unexpectedly puritanical. Not that homosexuals are alone in their misguided hopes, as strong government cultural conservatives have fallen into the same trap of believing that if only they can get at the wheel for a moment, all their problems will be solved. But there is no problem so severe that government intervention cannot make it worse.

Note – Yes, I know that Jyoti of White Town isn’t actually gay.

Mailvox: How to buy gold

Andy asks: I was wanting to ask you about your suggestion to buy silver and gold. How do you tell legitimate gold/silver investments from fake ones? I looked around this afternoon and found several places to buy gold from, and found that there are several gold and precious metal index funds. But what is the best or “real” way to go about buying gold?

The best way is to buy coins from official mints. Krugerrands, American Eagles, Chinese Pandas and Canadian Maple Leafs are all popular. You pay a small premium over the spot price – the daily gold price – but that’s neither here nor there since you’ll get it back when you sell it. You can find coin dealers listed in your local Yellow Pages. Another less handy option is to open an account in an international bank that will allow you to trade gold freely like a stock. You can do this in Swiss banks, for example, but you have to go to Switzerland to even learn about your account options since US law forbids American citizens to receive any information from them, even upon request. Canadian banks may be an easier option for most, as I believe some of them have metal-trading accounts as well.

Any gold stock that is a part of the HUI is a legitimate investment. Just go to Yahoo! Finance and lookup ^HUI. That will give you the basket of 13 or so stocks, and you can also purchase the HUI directly as it is an ETF – exchange traded fund. Since gold is fast-approaching its 200-DMA, we are getting close to what appears to be another reasonable buy point, the Elliott Wave pessimists notwithstanding. I’m a little more skeptical on silver, since it is still at a relative high after a staggering three-month run.

Another nice option, depending on the exchange rates, is purchasing foreign gold stocks. I picked up some ASX stocks a while back and the combination of the stock move and the dollar decline worked out very nicely indeed. But Jamie R can tell you more about that than I can, as he’s our resident ASX guy.

Any dealer who advertises on Kitco is likely legitimate. The one thing to be aware of is that the expansion of federal banking laws to include real estate agents and coin dealers may require them to file transaction reports with the federal government now. If this is the case, and you don’t wish to advertise your physical holdings, you may prefer to deal with private parties.

Suing Pfizer

Clinical tests of the anti-impotency drug Viagra have failed to prove it helps women achieve sexual arousal. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said it was “disappointed” the eight-year-long study showed Viagra is not useful in treating female sexual disorders. It said it will not be seeking approval from drug regulators in the US to make the drug available to women.

Since men and women are, as we all know, equal in all ways and all things, this would appear to be a massive class action suit in waiting. The Patriarchy obviously fears the female climax!

Mailvox: Keeping track

A few of you have asked about where you can find out how The Passion of the Christ is doing at the box office. The answer is mind-bogglingly well. $64 million in three days, with a per-screen average almost seven times that of this week’s second most succesful movie. To put that $64 million in perspective, The Return of the King has done less than six times the business, $362 million, in 73 days.

Not bad for two movies in which Hollywood had little interest. I imagine the Narnia movies will be the next big “surprise”.

Of course the cops don’t do this

The Washington Times reports: Until last week, Mr. [Pat] Conroy was an assistant principal and the dean of students at Michigan’s South Haven High School. On the same day that he permanently left his office, he was called into another one — the courtroom of the district courthouse — where he pled not guilty to a charge of marijuana possession. Mr. Conroy claimed that he had a perfectly reasonable reason for having the substance on his person. He had tried to use it to get a student expelled. Specifically, Mr. Conroy said that he had planted the marijuana in the locker of a student he strongly suspected of being a drug dealer, hoping that a police dog would sniff out the drugs during a search of the school. However, the stuffy-nosed hound failed to find the materials.

Meanwhile, police had a nose for Mr. Conroy. When officers raided his office earlier this month, they found ten plastic bags of marijuana and several assorted pills. If convicted, Mr. Conroy will be faced with a $2,000 fine and a year of detention.

The War on Drugs is not the greatest federal abomination, but barring the full flowering of the Patriot Act, it is certainly one of the federal government’s favorite means of systematically depriving American citizens of their birthright. If a school officer is capable of behaving in this manner, can there be any doubt that there are police officers who do the same?

No fear

Ezra comments: I fear this movie will simply give a huge amount of guilt to those unbelievers who watch it, feeling this remorse for “doing that terrible thing to Christ” and cause them to therefore think they can and should take some sort of action to make reparations to God. That would miss the point entirely that Christ died (and RESURRECTED) because the hope of reparations is futile!

No guilt, no repentance. No repentance, no salvation. There is a specific action that an unbeliever needs to take. I have no idea if anyone will be led to do so after seeing the movie, but of one thing I am absolutely sure. God speaks to the heart in a myriad of ways.

I attended a Billy Graham crusade once out of curiousity after I had already become a Christian. His speaking was uninspired, his message was an uninteresting take on the one that I had heard many, many times before. I thought, well, it’s too bad that he’s gotten so old and has lost his fastball – in a mostly full football stadium, I would have been surprised to see more than ten or twenty people go forward. I was quite startled when at least 10,000 people responded to the altar call. Were they all genuine? I have no idea, not being gifted with the ability to read hearts or minds.

But then I remembered a preacher who once said that he is nothing more than a conduit. Tens of thousands of people pray before he preaches anywhere. Hearts and spirits are prepared, and his simple words are simply the catalyst, a match thrown into the waiting gasoline vapors.