Category Archives: Israel

In a World Filled with "Overblown Egos" It Is Time to Pay Attention to the Gospel of Matthew

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

          By Larry Peterson

I watched with fascination Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netenyahu’s, speech before a joint session of the United States Congress. I admire this man because I cannot think of any leader of any nation that has his own country virtually surrounded by those who have sworn to annihilate it. His responsibility to protect and defend his people is foremost in his thoughts and his presentation before the Congress was his way of defending them by letting the entire world know of Israel’s plight. And he did it in front of an audience of “Big Shots”. You know, those folks that have a grandiose and expanded sense of self. 

It seems our president, Barack Obama, was quite ticked off at the entire spectacle. The Prime Minister was asked to speak before the Congress by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. In so doing, “protocol” was violated. Israel, supposedly our most important ally and friend, had its own Prime Minister boycotted by the entire executive branch of our government and about fifty of the legislative branch members who were all Democrats. They were all “offended” by his appearance because he was not invited by the President himself. 

Imagine that, their ‘feelings’ were hurt. President Obama even spent eleven minutes on CNN explaining why and how Netenyahu’s talk was “nothing new”. Whatever. I was thinking that how amazing it would have been if our president unexpectedly walked into the auditorium while Bibi was speaking and walked up to the podium, stepped up to his presidential colleague, and hugged him and shook his hand. What a show of unity and camaraderie between nations that would have demonstrated.  Alas, I am a bit of a dreamer; always have been and always will be. 

I am Catholic and I went to Mass this morning. The gospel reading for today throughout the Catholic world was from Matthew 23: 1-12. It was so timely and so on point to yesterday’s spectacle (total coincidence) in Washington. I wish some of our leaders would read it. (Yeah right, like it would matter). Anyway, here it is:

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but DO NOT follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens and carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they do not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi’. As for you, do NOT be called ‘Rabbi’. You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one Master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

So, how many of our leaders who claim to be Christian, “humble ” themselves? Are we surrounded by hypocrites or what? All of us, myself included, have our own “puffed up” egos. We all have a sense of importance. But what happens to a person when they are empowered with a title or a sense of responsibility for others. TA-DA–a new Pharisee walks among us. It may not happen all the time but I think it happens more often than not.  

I watched the Democrat responses to Netenyahu’s speech after it was over. The responses came from people who did not even attend the joint session yet they had an analysis and response prepared immediately afterwards. And all they did was ‘trash’ the talk and say how “offended” the president was. Our ally, Israel, is a nation always under the threat of imminent attack by those who would destroy her. And  her leader, a great friend to America, was rebuffed by many because they were ‘offended’. How pathetic that is. 

 That picture in my mind of President Obama coming in to hug Bibi Netenyahu in front of the whole world dances within me and I imagine the possibilities including the example it would set for our children? Imagine, imagine, Yeah, right. Many of those ‘offended’ were Christian. Maybe it is time that  they read the Gospel they profess to follow. One thing is certain, when we die (and we all will one day) none of us will take our pride and egos before the Christ we say we follow. It will remain behind with all the rest of our distended arrogance and overblown egos. 

                                               ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

When it comes to Religion, we Americans are Spoiled Rotten

by Larry Peterson

When it comes to religion we here in the United States of America are spoiled rotten. We can worship unencumbered anytime we choose and we do not even give it a second thought. “C’mon, let’s go. We don’t want to be late for church.”  How many millions of times has that been said in America on a Sunday morning? And why not? We have had a powerful friend protecting us and it is called the Constitution. It reads in simple language: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. But now, the winds of change are in the air.

It seems that our days of simply taking this cherished freedom for granted are being legally ‘amputated’ by secularists, atheists and agnostics who, armed with cooperating attorneys, seem to attack not only all things Judeo-Christian but anything that even mentions or uses the name of God. Two examples are The Pledge of Allegiance or our motto, “In God We Trust”. Don’t they realize that we ALL have the right to worship or NOT worship if we choose? Don’t they realize how precious a gift this is to ALL Americans, believers and non-believers alike? Do they have any idea where their self-absorbed arrogance might take them if they succeed in their selfish quest to dismiss God from our lives? Have they ever once opened a history book?

 In other parts of the world these ‘amputations’ have become bloody and deadly as thousands of believers in Jesus Christ are being tortured and murdered because they are Christians. It is hard to believe that people in the “civilized and sophisticated” world of 2013 are being murdered because they believe in a Man who taught people to “love their neighbor”. This is reprehensible yet it is nothing new. For crying out loud, in Maccabees (Old testament–7:1-2, 9-14)  a mom and her seven sons were arrested and tortured because they would not eat pork. Then they killed all of them. That was a few thousand years ago. The landscape of history is strewn with the mutilated corpses of millions of people who have been slaughtered because of religious beliefs. The 20th century alone has seen the Islamic Fundamentalists kill over two million Armenians in Turkey from 1915 to 1918. Hitler, during the 1930s and through 1945 vanquished over six million Jews in his twisted quest to accomplish the “Final Solution”.  Many millions more were exterminated under his sick “watch”. In Bosnia, Orthodox Christians slaughtered over 100,000 Bosnian & Croatian Muslims from 1992 to 1995. Today, as I peck away at this keyboard, Coptic Christians in the middle-east, especially in Egypt and Syria, are being killed and persecuted because of their faith. From the Book of Maccabees and earlier nothing  has changed except the efficiency of killing and the plethora of cameras and recording devices capturing it all for our viewing “pleasure”. It is all in our collective faces. Where is the outcry, especially from the main-stream American media?  I don’t think they even care. The anti-God people in America and around the world obviously do not care. What is wrong with the God believers? Where is their voice? What fools we can be.

Seventy-five years ago on November 9 & 10, 1938, the nation of Germany,  under the rule of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen, initiated the infamous two day reign of terror on the German Jewish people which came to be known as Kristallnacht or “Night of the Broken Glass”. This pogrom (a series of government sanctioned coordinated attacks against the Jews in Germany) had been ready to go and those in charge had been waiting for a catalyst to justify it. It came at the hands of a 17-year old German-born Polish Jew who lived in Paris. Herschel Grynszpan, seeking revenge for the treatment given his parents in Germany, assassinated a German diplomat by the name of Ernst vom Rath. Upon hearing this the German propaganda machine, under Josef Goebbels, elevated vom Rath to “German martyr” status and Hitler himself attended  the funeral. The final piece was now in place to foment the “Final Solution”. The German people, having been primed with Jewish hatred  over the previous five to ten years, were ready to turn their backs on the Holocaust.

Somewhere around 10:30 p.m on November 9, sanctioned ‘mobs” began ransacking Jewish  homes, temples, schools, and hospitals throughout Germany and parts of Austria. Within two days at least 91 Jews were killed and over 30, 000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. German authorities turned their backs as  over 1000 synogogues were burned and over 7000 Jewish businesses were trashed. The name “Kristallnacht” developed because of the the thousands upon thousands of windows that were smashed and broken throughout Germany. The world was outraged at the reports of the vicious assaults on innocent people. It did not matter. The German press simply ignored it. The “Final Solution” and the impending Holocaust were now unstoppable.

The hatred and violence being expended today seems to be directed mostly at the Christian and the Jew. The Muslims hate Israel and want the Israeli nation with its Israeli people to disappear from the face of the earth. The Islamic Fundamentalists hate the Coptic Christians who have been in Egypt and the middle-east for almost 2000 years. The first Christians in Egypt were mainly Jews and the gospel, writer, St. Luke, mentions them in his gospel introduction. Even a part of St. John’s gospel was found to be written in Coptic. It follows that Egypt and the Coptic Christians are part of the cradle of Christianity itself. Why are we Catholics and other Christian denominations not screaming our heads off at the violent and debasing way they are being treated in the present time? Maybe because we can sit around and watch “The Kardashians” or “American Idol”  free from such unspeakable, upsetting circumstances. Maybe we have, like the German people of 75 years ago, been conditioned to shrug off  the blood being spilled by those of our brothers and sisters who are being killed and tortured because they love their Savior, Jesus Christ?

Could this hateful bloodletting based on one’s religious beliefs ever move onto the shores of the United States of America?  I fear that we have become so spoiled rotten in our comfortable “do what you want” free nation it may be possible. Maybe we have become Pinocchios, taken in by Stromboli’s promises and enjoying life with the Lampwicks at Pleasure Island. But never forget that Pleasure Island was a fraud and they all turned into Jackasses. Maybe we are primed for our own Kristallnacht to set it all in motion. Fortunately for Pinocchio, the Good Blue Fairy from above came down and saved him. Fortunately, we still have the First Amendment. We all need to start lifting  our eyes more. We need the ONE from above to come down and save us too.