Monday, March 28, 2011

A Response to Lawrence O'Donnell

Last week Lawrence O'Donnell stirred up a bit of controversy when he said these words on his show, The Last Word: "The book of Revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious God would bring about the end of the world. No half smart religious person actually believes the book of Revelation."

The full segment is posted here on O'Donnell's blog.

Let me start by saying that I am a likeminded liberal, and like Lawrence O'Donnell quite a lot. I agree with him a vast majority of the time, and greatly appreciate that a voice like his has a prominent place on the airwaves. But as a Christian who profoundly cherishes the Bible, I felt compelled to weigh in.

Dear Lawrence,

I read the Bible first thing every morning, have gone cover to cover four times, and am nearing my fifth completion. The day after that I will turn to page one and embark on my sixth reading of the word of God. I also study the history of its composition, its influence on the history of mankind, and cannot get enough of the documentaries and movies that have been made about it.

The Bible is not a work of fiction. The country of Israel is a real place, both ancient and modern, history records that its inhabitants were conquered and carried away captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar around 700 BC, and that Jesus Christ did walk the earth there about two thousand years ago. These and other events and people of the Bible were all very real, so if your belief that the book of Revelation is fiction extends to the whole of the Bible, you are very wrong. Just for a couple of many proofs, the Psalms are a collection of songs of worship and praise, and the Proverbs are just that: proverbs. Being such, they cannot be fiction.

In your monologue, you also said: "To believe in the book of Revelation literally, you have to believe in dragons. Quote: And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth, and the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed." (Incidentally, those verses are Revelation 12: 16-17.)

Lawrence, the dragon is not a literal dragon, the dragon allegorically symbolizes the Devil. If you had read the entire book of Revelation before talking about it, or even just the chapter from which you quoted, you’d have seen this verse: And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceived the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9. It's a mere few lines before the verses you quoted. Not to be harsh, but you come across like someone who’s only seen the preview discussing a film; or a book he’s only read parts.

Over the years I have had countless people remark on my intelligence, so if they are to be believed, then I am no half smart religious man. You also seem to misuse the word religious. Religion is going to the temple, and performing the liturgies and outward shows of worship. Faith is making a temple of your own body, and keeping the love of God and your neighbor in your heart and soul.

Furthermore, I believe much of the conservative Christian right is wide of the mark. They are hypocrites in much of what they say and do. Beck and Palin and the rest are a lot of misguided liars who drape themselves in mantles of Christianity to lead others astray for political gain or to exercise authority and power to the satisfaction of their own egos. Jesus did say that when the blind lead the blind they all fall in the ditch. True Christians are far more humble, compassionate, and yes, liberal.

You also referred to a well known Thomas Jefferson quote in which he called the book of Revelation blasphemous. I was familiar with the Jefferson quote before you repeated it on your show. I actually lost more respect for Jefferson when I first heard it. The parts of Revelation that apply to the world today could not have been fully comprehended by someone reading it before industrialization. His remark displayed where his faith was weak, at least to my mind.

I wrote a break down of some of the prophesies in Revelation with accompanying youtube videos to show precisely how they are coming to pass today. I find the accuracy with which they are fulfilling to be stunning and uncanny. That link is here, if you wish to take a look. I'd hardly call any of that fiction.

And if you’d care to write back, and are willing to do a little reading, I can direct to some places where I can demonstrate precisely how a reasonably intelligent man could do anything but believe the Bible.

Regards,

Bob Charest

Monday, March 21, 2011

Franklin Graham And The End Of The World

I just came across this recent interview with evangelical leader Franklin Graham on Newsmax.com, wherein he stated that the tsunami in Japan and other events could be signs that the return of Christ is near.

What I read made me wonder just how well Graham really knows the Bible. The signs he mentioned--war, famine and earthquake--are taken from what is called The Olivet Discourse, which Jesus delivered outside Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, and wherein he prophesied the details of the destruction of Jerusalem, the desolation of Israel, the Apocalypse and His Second Coming.

It seems to me, Mr. Franklin Graham, that if you are going to call the recent tsunami one of the signs of the end times, you'd do well to specifically mention the verse in The Olivet Discourse where Jesus said: the sea and the waves roaring. Luke 21:25. It certainly pertains, and would make you sound a little more authoritative.

And why do you hedge? "Could be?" War, famine and earthquakes are three of the many signs Jesus said to heed. Any believer who's read the Bible knows this, and that they are coming to pass right now with uncanny accuracy, so why not quote the Bible directly instead of deferring to it vaguely? And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:27-28.

And why are you giving such an interview to Newsmax.com? Those people are not exactly compassionate Christians. It's a website that's run by and caters to hard right arch conservatives and the mentally ill tea partiers on the lunatic fringe.

To get a better feel for Newsmax, take a quick look at the authors of the Newsmax.com blogs.

Here's a brief rundown of the bloggers I recognize. Among his many foul personality traits, the bloated, bellicose gasbag Dick Armey is a misogynist. Then there's the notorious Y2K wacko Pat Boone. I've never heard of Chris Freind, but his latest blog post is entitled: America Needs More Nuclear Power. That sounds like a common sense response to the recent disaster in Fukushima. Dr. Laura is a racist whose potty mouth ruined her radio career. Betsy McCaughey is a former tobacco industry lobbyist and was a vociferous opponent of health care reform (how very Christian) who propagated the death panels lie. Dick Morris is insane, Grover Norquist is inane, and both are Fox News hacks. Ralph Reed, along with the aforementioned Grover Norquist, was intimately involved in the infamous Jack Abramoff Indian Casino scandal. John Stossel's muddled mind is just plain weird, and George Will is a pompous, condescending, right wing liar who still holds to the ridiculous belief that climate change is not real.

Are these the modern day disciples of Christ you associate with, Franklin?

Additionally, Mr. Graham, you are a Republican, and in the Bible I read, Republicans resemble the enemies of Jesus Christ, not the disciples and friends. For as I understand it, Republicans screw everybody--including themselves. Jesus instructed us to give to the poor, and to be of compassionate hearts, and when asked what were the two greatest commandments, He said: Love God above all things, and thy neighbor as thyself.

So exactly how is inflicting Republican policy upon everyone ministering to the poor and loving God and thy neighbor as thyself? Seriously. Republicans condone raping God's sublime creation for cash, they don't give a fig about their neighbors, their hearts are stone, and they enrich themselves at the expense of what little the poor do have, thereby oppressing their neighors while condemning themselves, insomuch as it is written: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Furthermore, you supported Mitt Romney for president in 2008. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Mormonism calls itself a Christian denomination, but it is not: it is a false religion based on a work of fiction that its adherents hold to be a sacred book. It's a crock of rubbish that was written by their great 'prophet' Joseph Smith, a nineteenth century grave robber and womanizer who was killed in a shootout with authorities.

The Bible very clearly prophesied that such believers as the Mormons would come. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:3-4


Barack Obama is a Christian. Mitt Romney is not. So your preference of Romney based on Christian faith makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

You recently used your charitable foundation Samaritan's Purse planes to deliver 90 tons of relief supplies to Japan, and that is commendable; but you also used one of those planes to chauffeur Sarah Palin around in style during one of her book tours,and to solicit charity in the name of Christ and spend it in such a manner is deplorable.

Franklin Graham called Islam 'wicked' and 'evil.' As one who loves and clings to Jesus Christ, I feel the same way about right wing Christians, in that they give a horribly false example of what it means to be Christian, thereby leading some astray and turning others off, and about whom Jesus said: ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.