A Tenacious Tragedy

1 03 2010

There is only one way.  There has always only been one way.  There was a people who testified to that way, until the day that they met it face to face.  Upon meeting that one, they rejected him.  They continue, even now, upon that global stage, testifying to a “one,” but their fortress has been built without a cornerstone.  The prophets said that they would return to their homeland when the Messiah called them into it, but in the absence of a suitable Messiah, they have fulfilled the prophecy on their own initiative.  Abraham has lain with Hagar, having aborted the son of Sarah, in this case.  The prophecies will be fulfilled, even if they are not.

One must admire the tenacity of the Jewish nation, having been exiled not once, but twice, returning each time to rebuild a dream.  They have responded to the call, and they have come to assert their identity, to show the world that they have not been defeated.  Evangelicals, especially in America, have cheered their achievement.  More than that, the Christian Zionists, as they are called, actually live vicariously through these people.  The war of Ezekiel 38 seems to be just around the corner.  The Antichrist is set to amass his armies against her, only to be destroyed from above.  But what is this?  Israel, herself, is anti-Christ!  Even now, among her numbers, the Jews discuss the problematic matter of this friendship with the idolatrous Evangelicals.

The problem with Israel, as it stands today, is that she is no different than the day that Vespasian rode his chariots out to knock down her walls.

Before the king of Babylon even considered the spoils of Judea, the future victim had her own prophets warning of her demise, not the least of which was Isaiah.  In this, there was a due cause.  God had his purpose.  The people had fallen into an ungodly state, as had the land to the north, known as Israel.  That nation of Israel was scattered, but they lost their religious identity in the process.  Nine of the original twelve tribes were completely lost.  The land of Judea contained the Judeans, the Levites and the Benjamites (what was left of them).  The prophets warned that Babylon was coming.  Indeed, Babylon came.  They removed the followers of the I Am to a foreign land.

But the faith was not lost.  Their captors were conquered by the Persians, who granted them the freedom to return and rebuild their temple.  This meant many battles with the natives, who by no means identified themselves with this neo-native religion.

The prophets had spoken.  Greece was to come and trample Persia.  The winner would fracture, and its parts would wage war against each other, with the land of Judea caught in the middle.  Out of this, a king would come from the north and desecrate the temple.  After this, the Messiah would come.  All of this happened.  Daniel counted the years until Messiah, and those years had come, and the Messiah did come.

There has always been only one way.  That way came, and the people who followed the way came to a bend in the road and kept on going straight off into the pasture.  The promised Messiah brought redemption into the world, and the initial recipients, the wedding party, turned him away.  This is the crux of Christianity.  We do not differ with the Jews over one doctrinal issue.  We differ with them over the only doctrinal issue.  We follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They follow the god of Judah.

Abraham was sitting at his tent, and the Lord appeared before him in the form of human royalty.  Immediately, he recognized the impostor for his blasphemy.  God never takes the form of a human.  Therefore Abraham went straight out with his servants and had the man hung from a tree.  Is this how it happened?  Abraham did not do this, but Judea did.  The Lord appeared at her doorway in the form of human royalty, and she nailed him to a tree.  This is not to be mourned, so much, for it was through this tragedy that redemption was brought to all humanity.  The ultimate martyr, the ultimate sacrifice had been paid.  Yet, the Messiah lives.

A little over seventy years beyond the appearance of her Lord, Judea found herself sitting idly in the desert, lost without a Messiah.  Then the armies of Rome came and carried her away.  The land of Judah was smashed.  Its inhabitants were scattered.  Christ and his prophets saw this in advance.

A couple thousand years after the appearance of the Messiah, she returned to her homeland to fulfill a promise made to the children of Yahweh.  But she is still without her Messiah.  She has not learned from her Roman captivity, and she still spits in the face of God.  What is this disaster, that the beloved of God, the inheritance of Abraham, has remained stolidly against her God?

Time and again, the armies of the enemies of the modern state of Israel have come against her, and each time they have been destroyed.  God has taken her side.  How long can this last?  Their situation now is no different than it was the day that the Romans came knocking on Jerusalem’s doors.  Now, the Beast from the East is building nukes.  Now, the Beast from the West is rebuilding a new Rome.

And Israel is stuck in the middle, still without her Messiah.  How long can this tenuous situation possibly last?

There is only one God.  There is only one way.  There is only one solution that can prevent Israel, the tenacious, Israel, the beautiful, from becoming the last great tragedy of the Jews.  God save the Jews.





Hang on to Your Gold

19 01 2010

Money…it started out as an attraction to pretty things, namely gold and silver.  It became a means of efficient bartering.  It was coined and standardized.  Then it was replaced with paper as a substitute.  Then the paper was not a substitute but the thing itself.  Then the paper was represented by an abstract number.  Soon, the number will be the thing itself.  But the number will not be strictly under control of the people who use it, but, instead, it will need to be managed by a central industry, a governing authority.  The people will not own it.  The government will be in complete charge of it.

In 1933, our dear late president Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the ownership of gold.  The penalty was up to ten years in prison or ten thousand dollars’ fine for those who failed to comply.  Contracts that were insured against inflation by using the gold standard for adjustment could not longer use the gold standard.  The purpose was to make people rely entirely on the toilet paper being produced by our benevolent government for use as money.  It would be worth whatever they told us it was worth, and when they needed more, they would simply print more.  The New Deal (raw deal) was an artificial economy, giving great boatloads of people some manner of employment, where there was none.  The catch was that these jobs did nothing to actually promote the economy.  The government is not a participant in the law of supply and demand.  The economy must be powered by the private industry.  An all-public economy is a cannibalistic system that keeps recycling the same value over and over, until it diminishes into nothing.

So how did the New Deal survive?  It lived off of the backs of what was left of the private industry, not through taxation, but through inflation.  When the government produces money like a wild drunken counterfeiter, it has plenty to spend, but the value of everyone else’s money drops like a rock.  The dollar amount in the bank is an arbitrary number that means nothing.  The real value is an abstract concept wrapped up in that dollar, and the government can take it straight from our accounts without a single tax or fee.  We cannot easily track it.  We hardly notice its absence, until the price of everything at the store increases.

Until 1933, gold was that bastion of wealth that retained its value in the face of inflation.  When a square foot of dollars was worth less than a square foot of toilet paper, people might buy gold and abandon faith in “money,” because money isn’t really money.  The government stole everyone’s gold in exchange for fewer dollars than it was worth.  Then it cranked up the presses.  Had World War II not spurred on private contracts and actual manufacturing in the private sector, we might have ended up like post World War I Germany.  In the years since the war, government has striven, to our great relief, to stabilize our monetary system.  Under Allan Greenspan, the dollar was probably at its most stable point in recent history.

All of that is about to change.

Advertisement for your gold is at an all-time high.  The government is buying it up as fast as it can.  Fortunately, the acquisition is currently voluntary.  Whether it will always be so remains to be seen.  Hang on to your gold.  When the government is in a frenzy to buy gold, it intends to pay its debts through inflation.  The less gold you have, the less recourse you have.  For FDR, it was an attempt to force people to put their trust in paper.  But then and now it was also the government’s insurance against getting hurt by its own inflation.

So what happens to all of this gold?  Foreign investors, like China, don’t like putting their money into American interests, when they know that the return will be worth less, even though they get more dollars back.  They won’t want dollars.  They’ll want gold when the dollar is no longer a global standard.  When you sell your “unwanted” gold to some of these private firms out there, it goes to the federal reserve, and from there it makes its way out of the country.  If you plan to buy a wedding ring, then you’d better buy it now.

So who gets hurt worst?  Anyone who holds ownership of cash gets bit.  Money under the mattress evaporates.  Money in the bank leaks away.  All lenders of any kind get hurt.  The good news is that you’ll be able to pay off your fixed-rate mortgage easier.  The bad news is that the rate on your adjustable rate mortgage is going to go way up.  Interest rates of all kinds are going up.

As it is, every penny costs two and a half cents to produce.  Congress hates to make the stuff.  Nickles are also worth less than they cost.  Inflation is coming, and it’s coming hard.  Government buy-out of gold is the canary in the mine, telling us to grab our stuff and get out.  This could be the move that makes pocket change unfeasible.  If the coins go, then it will be one step closer to a monetary system without substance.

I don’t know when electronic money will hit the system, but when it does and wealth becomes nothing more than a number in the government’s ledger, then everything we do could ultimately be subject to our lord President’s dictates.  Who buys and who sells, what they buy and what they sell will all be subject to government control.  This, in light of some environmental policies seeking to outlaw the incandescent light bulb, black cars and the internal combustion engine.  We already know that the government is to the point of controlling things that it has no business meddling with.  I mention electronic money because the last time our dear Big Brother took that nasty dangerous yellow ore from us, it intended to permanently change the way we do business.

You will be hurt if:

  • you have much money in the bank or under the mattress, in CDs or bonds or loaned out to anyone.
  • you borrowed loans on a variable interest rate.
  • you need to get a loan in the future.
  • you sell your gold (or they take it from you).
  • you need to buy gold in the future (even now it is already more expensive).

Further, you will be hurt simply by living in the United States, because our economy will be drained to pay the whims of our government.  Look out, China, because we’ll be the cheap labor, now.  Learn to make a home from mud and sticks (I jest, I hope).

And if the government takes the notion to force your gold from you, I advise civil disobedience…but be careful.





Life at the Bottom of the Pool

6 12 2008

Nine years is a long time to suffer from chronic depression.  One might see how, after all of those years, I might have come to see it as a more or less permanent state of existence.  In fact, the most depressing aspect about being depressed was the apparent endlessness of it.  Frankly, I’m not sure how I survived.  I had come to believe that not only I, but the entire world, was gripped with the iron hand of the foul mood, and that all happy people were complete frauds.  Fantasies of suicide were a nearly daily occurrence.  There was a certain irony to it, though, that with the depression came a pessimism about all things self-related, and I had no hope for suicide any more than for anything else.  I figured I’d go to Hell and be even worse off, or I’d botch it and maim myself for life, making things much worse, or I’d get caught in the attempt, and people would regard me as a mentally sick individual for a lifetime.  Now that would be a reason to get depressed.  As bad as I felt, I was sure it could get much worse.  As I recall, the most dangerous time of my life was at the very end of this season, when things were finally starting to improve.  The clouds were beginning to part, and I had a sense that maybe life was taking a turn for the better.  It was in that critical time that I had enough optimism to think that I could go through with it if I tried, that I might not be worse off for it.  True, I had less reason to kill myself.  In fact, I had virtually no reason to do so, but the experiences of a decade gave me no precedent to stand on and no reason to believe that true happiness was a thing of permanence.  Perhaps, it was because of this mindset that I found myself on the bottom of the pool, moments away from death.

 

I had made a practice of holding my breath.  It was this contest I made with myself.  It’s not as though I had anyone to swim with, or anything else interesting to do while swimming in the pool.  Exhaling all my breath, I would crawl along the bottom of this large pool until I had traversed it, lengthwise.  With effort, I got quite good at it.  One day, I decided to just sit at the bottom of the deep end and see just how long I could hold my breath.  I held it until I felt like I was going to burst, and then some.  The carbon dioxide buildup in my blood made me hiccup, but underwater it feels different, so I didn’t really know what it was.  I actually tried to voluntarily inhale the water, but I knew that the diving reflex would prevent me from doing it.  No matter how strong the urge to breathe, I could not inhale the water.  This was not an attempt to kill myself.  Eventually, though, the urge to breathe completely subsided, and I knew exactly what was happening.  I was experiencing rapture of the deep.  I was in an underwater paradise, where air was no longer a need, or so it seemed.  When the body detects a low oxygen level, it produces the intense urge to get air, but only to a certain point.  If the oxygen level drops to an extreme, that urgency reverses, and the person feels no need to breathe.  The same is true in reverse.  Over-oxygenated blood causes a person to slow breathing, but when taken to an extreme, the person will gasp for air uncontrollably.  I knew this at the time.  I knew I was moments away from death.  I sat there and thought about how wonderful it was that I was about to die.  I thought about a number of things while I was down there, getting relaxed.  I thought about the woman I had fallen in love with, who actually loved me back.  I thought about my promising future.  I also thought about my past, and I knew that if I merely followed the pattern, then I had nothing to hope for…but that all seemed okay, because I was about to die.

 

Then I thought a step further.  In probably less than two minutes, I would be seeing my maker face-to-face.  This was no fantasy, now.  This would be reality.  Whatever was on the other side of death would be everything to me.  I was pleasantly happy.  It was then that I had a little bit of a flashback to a certain incident at the age of about fourteen, when I was with a scouting group in the middle of the desert.  The adult leaders, who were two brothers, had brought iodine tablets to purify some rather nasty water that we came to and camped by.  Having run out of water in our bottles, this is what we were expected to use.  They seemed proud of themselves for their survival skills, but I didn’t trust them.  In the dead of night, I left with a fellow youth and hiked all the way back to the trailhead to retrieve water from a tap.  On the way back, we strayed from the trail, encountered a coyote and got startled by some gasses escaping the cooling earth with a loud hiss.  We kept our cool, though, and found our way back to camp, somehow.  The next morning, the two leaders took us to task for our behavior.  One of them was angry and red-faced.  The other was ashamed of us and didn’t say a word.  It was the second of the two that impacted me the most.  They had made me a role model for the group, and I had betrayed them.  I did my own thing in my mistrust of their plan.

 

While sitting on the bottom of the pool, I saw in my imagination God in two persons, in the form of these two leaders.  I knew at that moment that he had plans for me, and that I was daring to throw it all away in my mistrust of him and my future.  I knew that, should I die then, I would be facing a God who was ashamed of me.  I had not walked into this with the direct intent to kill myself, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that I really had walked into this with the intent to kill myself.  It was an intentional accident.  Ashamed, God said to me that I had people in my life, now and in the future, on whom I would have a lasting and important effect.  It was his plan for me, and he was determined to have it happen.  He had made me a role model to others, impossible as it seemed.  To choose death would be a betrayal against him, and this was not the way I wanted to greet him on the other side.  I don’t know that I would have gone to Hell.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t have that stated inflexible belief that all who commit suicide go to Hell.  However, I couldn’t see myself crawling past God to get into Heaven.  I looked up at the air above me, thinking that I had better go up and get some air.  I still didn’t feel like it, and I felt quite comfortable down there, like a man who grows comfortable in his sin, headed for death and feeling good.  The problem was that I was almost too relaxed.  I moved like a sloth.  Here I was, stuck in slow motion, and gravity was working at full speed.  I didn’t have the strength to swim.  I stood there, looking up and thinking that I’m glad the pool was only eight feet deep, which was only a little higher than my reach.  Man, I was feeling sleepy.  I gave a little hop, grabbed the coping and slowly pulled myself up.  I looked at the stopwatch, and I had been underwater for over three minutes after exhaling.  The problem was, I still didn’t feel like breathing.  I actually watched the clock for a half minute longer.  I looked around, feeling fine, and then I took a very deliberate breath.  The transition back into the land of the breathing was completely uneventful.  I never once actually felt like I was about to die.  I only knew, logically, that I was close.

 

Was this the closest I had been to death?  Years earlier, I was almost run-over by a speeding truck that ran the school guard crosswalk stop signs.  An older kid from just up the street grabbed me by my coat and pulled me back just in time.  Sometimes I think about how awful that would have been.

 

I am a fatalist at heart.  I didn’t choose how, when or if I was to be born, and I’ll go out in the same way.  I get a little unnerved, thinking that one day God will kill me.  It happens to us all.  Will I die in my sleep?  Will my head be on a platter, with people dancing in the streets, giving each other presents in celebration?  Everyone dies eventually.  Because of this inevitability, it is actually life that has the most uncertainty, not death.  We simply must trust God, and that he has a plan for us.  We must be willing to live that plan, humbly, and not fight to wrest control of our lives from him.

 

Incidentally, the years following this story have been the happiest years of my life.

 

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