Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Trump/Bakker: Marriage of Convenience

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Jim Bakker, sticking with Trump to the end...

Jim Bakker, sticking with Trump to the end.

The good news is that I think I finally have a handle on this whole evangelical Christians love affair with Donald Trump. The bad news — and the apparent reason it took so long for me to get it — is that the revelation comes from Jim Bakker. Jessica Hahn’s former boss and philandering lover is not exactly on my radar screen.

Regardless, I’m grateful for the belated enlightenment. According to the TV evangelist, the Orange Dotard and the chaos he has loosed on the planet are all part of God’s plan. The End Times are approaching, people — can’t you hear the hooves of the Four Horsemen? It will all end in a cataclysmic war, or something, and the world will be saved with the second coming of Jesus.

Well, not the whole world. Just the Christians. And not just any Christians, just, you know, the good ones. The “true” ones who look like them and think all other people — and they do mean all — are sinners, blasphemers, heretics, etc. The rest of us will be left behind in the Rapture, with only true disciples ascending to Heaven. Evangelicals have believed in some version of this prophecy from the Old Testament for centuries and the fact that it hasn’t happened yet has never been a deterrent to new believers — or to preachers willing to exploit it to their own profit. The end is near; send me your money.

The key to my finally understanding the evangelical embrace of Trump, the most amoral, immoral, irreligious occupant of the White House perhaps ever, is realizing I had it backwards. It doesn’t matter to Bakker and other evangelicals (I understand some evangelicals disagree with him, but their silence is deafening) if Trump is a serial sexual assaulter, a racist, a bigot, a phony Christian, a liar, a thief, a purveyor of hatred and resentment. That’s all part of the plan. The worse Trump is, the sooner the holy war starts and the sooner Jesus returns to save us.

Well, not all of us. Just, you know, “true” Christians. So, to reserve your seat on the Greyhound to Heaven, send in your donations today to Jim, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) or one of the others.

This Old Testament prophecy now apparently serves as the basis of presidential policy, being digested at regular prayer breakfasts in the White House. Those breakfasts are attended by evangelical ministers, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump cabinet who profess a belief in the End Times theory.

The wisdom of our forefathers in separating church and state has never been more evident.

What’s not so obvious to me is, in this room of con artists, who is ultimately conning whom? The evangelicals latched on to Trump because he clearly has no use for the same people they exclude from their salvation story. He’s even apparently willing to use force or defy international efforts at cooperation to demonstrate his view. But his reasons are clearly not based on religious beliefs. They always have to do with him. He’s a con man. How can he benefit? In this case, he gets the evangelicals’ political support and votes, knowing they’ll support him no matter what, even though he doesn’t really believe their story. Because God sent him.

The evangelicals know that he knows. They know he doesn’t believe. That’s their con. In fact, that’s what makes their story more credible to them. A non-believer, they believe, will deliver them to Heaven by reclaiming Israel for the Jews, which is what they saw in Trump’s moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — a move guaranteed to produce more conflict in the Middle East and one undoubtedly dreamed up at one of those White House prayer breakfasts.

Robert Jeffress, a Rapture pastor who attends those breakfasts, delivered the new embassy’s opening prayer. Jeffress has called Mormons heretics, said homosexuals are filthy, Islam promotes pedophilia and Jews are fated to hell. But, heck yeah, let’s pray for reuniting Israel anyway so that the holy war can start soon and we can get on with salvation.

It’s all a matter of convenience, in my way of thinking at least. That’s the con. Whatever Trump does, it’s all God’s will. (Get those donations in; seats are filling up fast.)

Still, I’m not completely clear on what’s about to happen. Versions of End Times vary and Bakker himself seems to have confused the issue by saying God told him (Yes, he got it straight from the Source) that: “Donald Trump is a respite in this troubled times and I sent him in grace to give you time to prepare for what’s coming on earth. …”

“We have a president people think is crazy,” Bakker said. “They call him crazy, but he’s making peace treaties, he’s doing all the things to try to solve the world’s problems and God has put him on earth— God spoke to me the other night. He said, ‘I put Donald Trump on earth to give you time, the church, to get ready.’”

So, is Trump here to make peace or war? See what I mean by convenient?

I read the novel, “Left Behind,” many years ago out of curiosity. It’s the Rapture in paperback. As I recall, in the book a lot of people were surprised to find loved ones gone — empty clothes, idling cars, etc. — but they were still around. And there was some new, false Messiah offering peace to a troubled world. (Mike Pence may be auditioning for this role.)

So, if I’m looking for a happy ending to this morality tale being played out on Pennsylvania Avenue, I can easily believe that Bakker et al got it wrong when they decided who and what was right. They conned themselves. That would mean, if the Apocalypse, etc. happens, Bakker, Trump, Pence, Graham, Jeffress, Robertson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and most of Trump’s cabinet will be left behind to clean up their mess while the rest of us eat tacos and hummus and listen to Elton John in Heaven.

Either that, or the sound of hooves is Robert Mueller arriving on a white horse called Conquest. That’s in the story, too.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

West Bank Activist to Visit Middletown

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

By Michael Kaufman

Iyad Burnat's Twitter photo

Iyad Burnat’s Twitter photo

Residents of the Mid-Hudson Valley will have a rare opportunity this week to meet and speak with Iyad Burnat of the West Bank village of Bil’in, whose story is documented in the award-winning film, “Five Broken Cameras.”  The documentary was shot almost entirely by Burnat’s brother Emad, a Palestinian farmer, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. At the same time the Israeli government began bulldozing the village’s olive groves to build a barrier to separate Bil’in from the Jewish Settlement Modi’in Illit.

Structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras, the film (co-directed by Emad and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi) follows the Burnat family’s evolution over five years of turmoil and provides a first-hand account of the events leading to the ongoing non-violent weekly protests led by the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall, led by Iyad. The film has won numerous awards, including a 2012 Sundance Film Festival award, and was nominated for an Academy Award that year.

Iyad Burnat will be speaking at a public meeting starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Mulberry House Senior Center, 62-70 West Main St., Middletown. The program is organized by the recently formed Middle East Realities Forum (MERF). It will also include Sam Sussman, a graduate student at Oxford University, freelance journalist, and co-director of Extend Tours, an initiative to introduce young American Jews who visit Israel on Birthright trips to meet and engage with Palestinians living in the West Bank.

This will be the second in a series of programs arranged by MERF, “designed to promote open and honest dialogue about the issues confronting this tumultuous region of our world,” according to a flyer publicizing the event. “As always, ALL OPINIONS ARE WELCOME.” For more information call 914-213- 9783.

Emotions tend to run high whenever a discussion of Israel/Palestine takes place. Nevertheless, I plan on being there Thursday night and listening respectfully to all opinions whether I agree with them or not (although I will not listen respectfully to hate speech of any kind).  I hope others will do the same.

And speaking of hate speech, why does so much of it seem to emanate from Pine Bush? By now the latest episode of xenophobic idiocy on the part of at least some residents there is so well-documented that I have nothing to add other than one more expression of sympathy for the unfortunate Jordanian-American high school girl who was vilified after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic as part of an International Language Week celebration.

A couple of years ago, in the midst of the furor over the school district’s failure to address repeated ugly incidences of anti-Semitism, many local teens posted hateful notices on Facebook and there was even proud mention of a certain Pine Bush “heritage.” Pine Bush had an active chapter of the Ku Klux Klan well into the 1970s and was home to Earl Schoonmaker, a Grand Dragon no less. I believe most people in Pine Bush aren’t haters but when I think about the place nowadays it reminds me of how I used to feel about Mississippi.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years Later, the Pain Remains

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

A protest in Boston on Mothers Day, 2002. Reuter's photo by Jim Bourg.

By Bob Gaydos

This is going to be personal. Not just online blog personal, but in your gut, or should I say, in my gut personal. If you’re looking for politics, you won’t find it here. Our political institutions are a sham, self-serving and deceitful. This is about that other major institution you’re not supposed to talk about at polite dinner parties: religion.

Well, one religion. Catholicism. The one I was born into and eventually left. My intent here is not to offend or anger anyone who practices the faith or to challenge its teachings. In a sense, it’s not really about Catholicism at all. As religions go, I think it’s as good as any other if it fulfills one’s spiritual needs.

This is really about the people — the men — who control the Roman Catholic Church and who are, I believe, supposed to be spiritual role models. Instead, like politicians, many Church leaders, I also believe, are largely self-serving and deceitful. Driven by ego. Unlike politicians, they have the benefit of confessing their sins to each other and being forgiven.

This uncomfortable feeling about some of the good fathers of the Roman Catholic Church is not new. It has, however, been dormant. It was awakened with suddenness and surprising force for me recently as I read a story in the Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald-Record written by my colleague, Steve Israel. It concerned two predators who had sexually abused many young boys while serving as Roman Catholic priests in local parishes in the mid-Hudson.

Steve had written about these men years ago when, no thanks to the Church, their behavior became public knowledge. Likewise, as editorial page editor of The Record at the time, I had written opinions about the priests and the manner in which the Church mishandled their cases. Yet as I read Steve’s recent article (prompted by the impending sentencing of Penn State sex predator Jerry Sandusky), I found my eyes welling up with tears and feeling a profound sadness and anger bordering on rage. I felt personally offended.

The sadness was for the victims and their families who, as they told Steve, must carry the hurt and humiliation, the angry memories, with them every day of their lives.

The rage was not for Edward Pipala or Francis Stinner, the local priests who betrayed their positions of trust. They are what they are. Pray for them, or not, as you choose. Rather, it was for their superiors, those bishops. monsignors and cardinals who knew what the priests were, what they had done, what they would continue to do if not stopped, and still let them do it, for no reason other than to protect the name of the Roman Catholic Church and, not so coincidentally, their positions of influence within it.

Thanks to someone’s merciful god, Pipala, Stinner, and dozens of other sexual predators in the priesthood around the globe, were eventually exposed. Some, including Pipala, served prison time. But this only happened after many years of the church paying millions of dollars in hush money to victims for their promise to remain silent, of moving predatory priests from one parish to another, often to positions that involved mentoring teenaged boys, and of refusing to report the sexual assaults as crimes to local police. Many years, many more victims. And many denials by Church spokesmen.

Where, in any testament or gospel or papal edict — never mind universal, common decency — is such collusion and conspiracy to conceal thousands of sexual assaults against young boys not to be considered the gravest of mortal sins as well as a crime? How in any god’s name do church leaders continue to preach against such perceived “evils” as homosexuality or contraception — both of which are widely accepted by Catholics — while they are still cleaning up the very real mess of decades of priests having sex with young boys and the Church doing nothing about it? Is hypocrisy not in the Vatican’s dictionary? Shame? Sorrow? Repentance?

I was an altar boy in my youth, but our church was of the Byzantine rite. When that church merged with the Roman Catholic, priests who were married, like ours, were allowed to remain married. Some suggest that allowing priests to marry or allowing women to become priests would reduce the number of sexual predators in the priesthood. Certainly diminish the tendency to cover up their crimes. But when the nuns who do the in-person works of faith of the Church have dared to encourage discussion of these topics, as well as same-sex marriage or contraception, they have been threatened with punishment by the Vatican. Still, the heavy veil of silence rules. The mere discussion of important social issues is seen as a threat to the Church and its all-male leadership.

One thing politicians do find out is that credibility is an invaluable commodity. Lose it and you lose the voters. The Church is losing parishioners in droves and few young men are flocking to join the priesthood. The reasons for this are right in front of their eyes, but many of the leaders of the Church continue to ignore them and to act as if all will be well if they do so.

The sex scandal will remain a sordid, unfathomable chapter in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, certainly as long as the victims are alive and, one hopes, so long as people of good conscience are around to make sure history is not rewritten.

Sincere acts of contrition by those responsible for committing and perpetuating this crime against humanity would certainly be welcome. As for those men of the cloth who see no need for such displays of humility, fortunately, their religion is one that believes in Hell. Personally, an eternity there seems fair.