Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Third Temple of Solomon; God's Will?

The issue of whether Solomon's Temple - which was leveled by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago - should ever be rebuilt is so inflammatory that it could start another Mid-East war. A mosque now stands on the Jerusalem site, and Muslims guard it with extreme measures. Jews and Christians are discouraged from approaching it. Many Arab leaders - such as the late Yassir Arafat - deny there ever was a Jewish temple on the site, which is absurd. The historic record, from Roman times backward, documents its wonders. There were two, an original, and a rebuilt one paid for by Herod the Great. Both were crafted with precious woods, metals, gems, and fabrics; the ultimate statement of the grandeur and power of the age. In 70 A.D., Jews rebelled against Rome and lost. They were punished by the destruction of the Temple, down to its foundations, and the city.

In June 1967, Israeli paratroopers entered Jerusalem after Israel's miraculous victory in the Six-Day War. The city had been under Jordanian control for nineteen years. The paratroopers made their way to the Temple Mount, the holiest piece of ground in all Judaism, site of the First and Second Temples of Solomon, and, by tradition, the ark itself. Three paratroopers climbed to the top of the Muslim Dome of The Rock (built on the foundation of the Second Temple) and unfurled the Israeli flag. Four hours later, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan ordered it removed. Then Dayan handed over the Temple Mount to the Muslims, and it remains in their control. Dayan announced that he did this to prevent the building of a Third Temple, which Jews do certainly pray for. But the likelihood of a Third Temple arising was about zero, a fact that doesn't stop Muslim clerics from saying, "the Israeli occupation and its executive arms are making increasing efforts...to hasten the building of the alleged third Temple in place of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque...." (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 4, 2011).

Meanwhile, the Muslim plan to erase Jews from all of Jerusalem continues. Jews are allowed only limited access to the Mount, and are strictly forbidden to pray.  If a Jew is seen so much as moving his lips there he runs the risk of being attacked, and will very likely be arrested by the Israeli police. In spite of constant Israeli assistance, however, just last month the Jordanian Information Minister demanded the removal of the police station and its surveillance cameras.

The ultimate question is whether or not it is God's intention to re-establish a temple on the Mount.  Jesus appears to say no.  In John 2:13-22, it says, "The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.  And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."

This is one of the most important lessons we can learn in this life. God's Kingdom, and the greatest gifts we can receive in this life, are not material things. To us, in this world of heavy substance, what we often call "reality", is dull and dense as lead. The world to come is much finer and exponentially more desirable and durable.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matt. 6:19-21

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Pope From The Infernal Regions

The new Pope Francis got off to a splendid start this year by seeming to repudiate the gaudy pomp and ceremonies of previous popes, and by performing truly humble acts such as washing the feet of street people, and literally embracing the deformed and diseased who sought just a kind word from him. His generosity has been impressive, but limited to those who are dependent or obviously needy. He's been far less generous to others who see and know the world differently, in real terms, and have prospered through hard work and imagination.

To start, we should recognize that there will always be a profound difference between people who are trained and groomed in the ivory towers of religious or scholastic institutions, and those who must survive and prosper in the asphalt jungles of Rome, Paris, New York, or Kansas City. Pope Francis, Barack Obama, Al Gore, and Francois Hollande live in artificial micro-worlds that insulate them almost entirely from reality. But this does not release them from the responsibilities we all bear, and they must account to God at the end of their lives, as we commoners will do.
The Pope recently denounced to the global media - in what is called an Apostolic Exhortation - the evil of what he called "unfettered capitalism", as if such a thing still exists in the world. He went on, "Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.... we can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market.”  

This is palpably wrong on several fronts, and almost delusional in its ignorance. Where should we start?

First: Christians and Catholics are being slaughtered wholesale, literally exterminated, in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and elsewhere in the Islamic world, and we haven't heard a word of condemnation from him. Why is he attacking "unfettered capitalism" now? Is it as deadly as radical Islam? What about the persecution of Christians in communist/socialist countries in Asia and Africa? 

Second:  Nowhere in the world today is there any nation practicing "unfettered capitalism." The 20th Century and its so-called "progressive" governments - which are actually variations of Marxism/Collectivism -  altered forever the dynamics of pure capitalism through laws and multinational treaties.  Federal and state governments, globally, are now intimately and to various degrees intrusively, micro-managing our economic affairs through taxation, regulation, and threats of more taxation and regulation.  It has been a disaster, and was recognized as such by the two largest countries in the world, Red China and the Soviet Union, in the late 1980's. Both countries were bankrupt (at a time when the United States was booming), so they gave up - for a while - communism/collectivism, and allowed for limited free enterprise and property ownership.  The results were immediate and dramatic. China experienced an economic expansion of immense proportions, and just in the last twenty years has become a dominant world power because of their change in course. 

The Soviet Union returned to its old name, Russia, and experienced a similar boom, but with more chaos. For a time the government was so weak that it couldn't maintain control, and almost surrendered to anarchy and lawlessness. Then Vladimir Putin came to power, and re-established an authoritarian government based on "crony-capitalism", where the personal property and wealth of regime cronies is allowed, but subjected to extreme scrutiny and omnipresent - and often capricious - regulations from Moscow. Still, they have a greater level of prosperity now than they ever had under Stalinist communism, and the hope of more to come. Russia's crony capitalism is becoming the world model, even for China.

In his document, the Pope uses the phrase "trickle down theories" to describe free market activities "which assume that economic growth" will bring prosperity, "justice" and "inclusiveness".  The economic marvels of modern China, Russia, and the U.S. (until 2001), were not "trickle down" effects. There was broad-based, across-the-board economic growth that elevated every class of people, for the most part.  "A rising tide lifts all boats" is an old phrase that best describes the real-world experiences of free market, genuinely liberal countries that free themselves from socialist/collectivist oppression.  Free people have an incentive to work, invest, and innovate. Workers in collectivist states are given basic necessities, and  have no incentive to work hard and excel. Inevitably these states sink into despair and destitution. The European Union is insolvent, as are the imitators of the EU. Economic growth in the EU is stagnant, and there is great dissatisfaction and strife in many EU countries.

The inarguable truth is that the 240 year-old Industrial Revolution, coupled with Adam Smith's free-market, free-trade principles, was the engine of productivity and prosperity that created the modern standards of living we consider essential now. The need for slaves - which all previous nations employed - was eliminated. The poor today live better than they ever did in the past, for the most part. Indoor plumbing, heating, and cooling; motorized transportation on land, water, and in the air; schools, medical care, clean food, clean water, entertainment, and social order have raised life spans and our quality of life to levels never dreamed of in history. Additionally, the Western Tradition - which began with ancient Greece and Rome - allows for religious freedom, a critical element in the success of free societies. How could the Pope miss this?  Why would he not honor it?

Of course there are many exceptions, and there are failures everywhere, but they are caused largely by bad faith and criminal conspiracies in every level of society. Corruption is endemic and permanent in countries that practice socialist, 'progressive', and Marxist policies. Misery always follows. 

So the Pope is demonstrably wrong about the failures of capitalism and free markets. What is alarming - and much worse - is his utter failure to point out the real elephant in the room; murderous Islamism, Sharia Law, and the rise of  socialist/collectivist/atheist governments and their attendant bankrupt economic systems. Venezuela and Argentina, for example, South American countries the Pope - who is Argentinian - should be intimately familiar with, are experiencing agonizing economic and social collapse due to their corruption and tyrannical socialist dictatorships. So why would the Pope ignore the real global trend toward anti-theism, atheism, and tyranny; and away from individual liberty and dignity?

In the 1990's, and up until 2001, the whole world generally recognized the truth that communism/socialism had failed to deliver on any of its promises; and that Adam Smith, and the Western Tradition of free peoples and free markets was the tried-and-true formula for world prosperity, liberty, and justice. But a deeply evil force arose, and has been at work for decades, a 'mind virus' if you will, which has blinded the world to the truth. The Pope also is infected by this virus.

We're now in a state of alarming decay, and the lessons of the 1990's have been forgotten. Europe, the U.S., Russia, China, and much of the Third World have embraced socialist/collectivism, and world economic growth has stagnated. Lawlessness and chaos are rising. How can the Pope ignore this?

Christian and Catholic Scripture proves that the Pope is unforgivably wrong, and is derelict in his main responsibility and occupation. The New Testament has numerous parables from the very mouth of Jesus that clearly show us that the right to earn and own property - and dispense it to others - is a critical part of God's plan for us.  People who are robbed of their freedom to work at their chosen occupation; to innovate, and attain abundance suffer terribly. Those who can't do so are slaves to a master, a state, and must ask permission to do everything, just as children do.They are crippled by a wicked philosophy of "equality".

In Matthew 25:14, the Parable of the Talents, Jesus teaches us about spiritual investment, one requirement for entrance into heaven. Using gold as an allegory for God's power and wisdom, we are shown that those who have the faith to take risks and loan that 'gold' to the world will reap the "increase";  the interest.  At the end of the parable, the servant who had made the most from his investments received the gold that belonged to the one who had faithlessly buried his, to preserve it, and that faithless servant was sent into outer darkness. 

In many of the Lord's parables, large property owners are likened to God, and their families to the children of God. In Luke 15:11, the Prodigal Son parable, a wayward heir squanders his inheritance and becomes a slave to an evil master. The loss of his property renders him miserable and destitute. He decides to humble himself and return to his father and beg for forgiveness. When he does this, the loving father treats him like royalty, because his son has learned humility and wisdom in his heart, and will presumably apply himself with great dedication. Other similar parables make the same points about wisdom and folly, and our requirement to act on our own, with the assets we earn and possess: The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, and the Hidden Treasure, Matt. 13:44 - 45. Then there is Ecclesiastes 5:8-20, where we are exhorted to "Eat, drink, and be merry... and enjoy the fruits of our labor all the days of our life.... all else is vanity and vexation of spirit."

When Jesus appeals to us to be charitable with what we have, and we respond by doing so, we are giving genuinely of our substance, and, He says, we "will receive reward in heaven." If we are the laborers of an all-powerful state that takes our property, gives it to those it deems worthy, and strives to keeps us all 'equal' (except for those who pull the levers of power), we will have no opportunities to earn, learn, and grow. We are mere slaves.

The truth is that Jesus condemned the state power of Rome, and by extension, most earthly powers.  John 12:31 says, "Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out."

The Pope must know in his heart of hearts that he is a heretic. For a leader of his stature to be attacking God's Word now, in these Final Days, is extremely significant. It's part and parcel of the rise of the Anti-Christ we're seeing every day now. Many popes in the past were anti-theists, and deeply evil people, but this one may be the worst of all.