Thursday, June 4, 2009

...Mr. President, I agree and disagree.

The obsessive skier has no grand delusions that the leader of the free world ever visits this blog.

But since David Axelrod (A Senior Advisor to the President) saw fit to send an email encouraging me to listen to the President's recent address to the Muslim world, the obsessive skier is happy to use this forum to let the President (and you, my faithful blog-reading friends) know what I think about what Mr. Obama said in Cairo today.

Mr. President, I agree...
"Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."

But isn't the Islam of the Koran a world order that seeks the subjugation of all aspects of every society? Western Pluralistic Secularism and Islam are fundamentally contradictory in many places.

Mr. President, I disagree...
"Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace."

It is part of the problem. The Koran teaches people to practice jihad. But liberal elements of Islam may be part of the solution.

Mr. President, I agree...
" is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."

One of the most offensive things that I find in American Evangelicalism is the smug and ignorant acceptance of almost every pro-Israeli American political position that blinds Christians to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters in the Palestinian-controlled territories.

Mr. President, I agree...
"To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."

But exactly how is it that an organization like Hamas (a word which literally means "violence") might be reformed? Prophetic visions can often be helpful, but that line sounded like a pious, pie-in-the-sky platitude.

Mr. President, I agree...
"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

Now, Mr. President, will you take any political risks at all to stop those settlements?

Oh yes, Mr. President, I agree...
"Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear;"

But of what God were you speaking when you said this?

"when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra -- (applause) -- as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)

The story of Isra makes Jesus out to be a mere prophet of God like Moses and (supposedly, but erroneously) Mohammed. Jesus is God. Jesus is the risen Lord of the universe. He has always existed as the 2nd person of the triune God. He is equal in essence, power and glory with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, who are each distinct persons and yet remain eternally the one true God.

As I mentioned in my review of The Audacity of Hope, Mr. President, I am still praying for your eyes to be opened so that you may see clearly who God is.

Mr. President, I agree...
"And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I'm hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal."

And Mr. President, I agree...
"People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul."

I'm sure it was out of a desire to be diplomatic that you did not mention that it was English and American Evangelical Christians in the 17th and 18th Centuries who suffered and died to birth religious liberty as an articulated human right.

Mr. President, I agree...
"Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action -- whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster."

But I don't believe that interfaith dialogue is necessary for interfaith service to happen. Look at the response of the world to the South Asian tsunami a few years back.

Mr. President, I am glad you said...
"I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality."

But I wish you had said so much more, for the sake of our wives and daughters and all women around the world.

Mr. President, I agree...
"The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home."

So will you take any political risks to establish common-sense standards of decency on the internet and on television?

Mr. President, I pray that the world agrees...
"The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek -- a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together."

But Mr. President, I don't agree with everything you said at the end of your speach with such grand rhetorical flourishes...

"It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There's one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples -- a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today. We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written."

The answer does not lie within us. We do not have the power to make the world we seek. The history of humanity has proven that to be true so many times before. We cannot make a new beginning by merely "keeping in mind" what has been written.

The answer lies with Jesus, the prince of peace. He has the power to make the world new and he is now making the world new as his kingdom has come and continues to expand on earth as it is in heaven. This is not a political kingdom and the only speeches that matter in His kingdom are the ones that He gives. He was with God in the beginning and he is the Word, the incarnation of all that God has written in the Bible. Oh, Mr. President, the Koran is not the Word of God. You call yourself a Christian. Stop misrepresenting God's Word.

Mr. President, you are attempting to make your own pluralistic geopolitical religion when you say things like this:

"The Holy Koran tells us: "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Applause.)

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth."

Mr. President, I will work with you for peaceful purposes on earth. But as we do so, we must not confuse our work here on Earth. The mission that Jesus has given his people is this:

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” - Acts 1:8

I continue to pray for you, my President.

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will. - Proverbs 21:1, The Bible


Dawn Baffone said...

Amen!! Preach it! You made some great points. Very good stuff, forwarding to my husband.

hockeyboy5 said...

Thoughtful and appropriate comments. I just had one that jumped out at me.

One of the most offensive things that I find in American Evangelicalism is the smug and ignorant acceptance of almost every pro-Israeli American political position that blinds Christians to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters in the Palestinian-controlled territories.

Very true, but I wish you would have balanced your view regarding the other side as well. One of the most offensive things that I find in liberal American Christianity is the smug and ignorant acceptance of almost every anti-Israeli American political position that blinds Christians to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters in Israel caused by terror spawned in the Palestinian-controlled territories.

It seems almost impossible to find someone willing to speak out against injustice on both sides. In my German Mennonite tradition, you hear peace activists who almost seem disappointed that Hitler didn't get the job done, because Palestinians would be a peaceful and cheerful lot without those evil Jews persecuting them. These are the same people who loved the Sandinistas and harbor a secret fondness for Castro that they could make public if he just didn't smoke cigars, because that's wrong.

obsessiveskier said...

Hockeyboy5, when you wrote: "the sufferings of their brothers and sisters in Israel", were you referring to the sufferings of Christian believers living in the nation state of Israel, or were you referring to all of the people who now live there as our "brothers and sisters"?

hockeyboy5 said...

were you referring to the sufferings of Christian believers living in the nation state of Israel, or were you referring to all of the people who now live there

Either one. Obviously the day-to-day conditions are worse for the average Palestinian, but rocket and suicide bomber attacks on Israel terrorize Christians along with all others sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

I'm just looking for balance, and I trust you'll add some to a fine article.