Sunday, April 26, 2009
On 'strangers' over there, and amongst us
-- Private Joker, "Full Metal Jacket," 1987.
That quote was rattling around in my head after lockin' horns over here and here with the Jesus-would-look-away-and-pretend-it's-not-torture-and-kill-'em-all-and-let-God-sort-it-out mindset. Gah.
And yesterday, while I'm not quite ready to write about it, came a weepy epiphany, I think, that, I think, maybe, has me trying, perhaps, to repent of whatever it is in me that hears "Taliban 60 miles from Islamabad," and *immediately* thinks: "Bomb them." (I'm sort of embarrassed by that now.)
Man. Turning from *that* would be-is harder than turning from homophobia. Gaa-aa-aah.
Being ready and willing to kick ass and take names, at least in defense of others -- or thinking of myself that way, at least -- is a huge part of who I think I am. To turn from that, I might have to change the name of this place, drop my R.
And this morning came the Stranger, on the road to Emmaus.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION today at church:
Lord of Life, help us to be careful about labeling someone a "stranger." We have it on good authority that the one we call the stranger is in fact the Lord. Help us to be careful when we talk about those who come looking for a better life. They are not "aliens" but human beings who follow in our immigrant footsteps. Help us to remember that when we think we know who is "in" and who is "out," we are breaking the first rule of gospel hospitality: we are all in. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, our Teacher and Lord, we pray, Amen.
Lordy. Thinking of illegal immigrants as Jesuses is one thing -- and a thing I'm thinking especially now since at least one congressman, a Democrat from New York, has already called for totally closing the border because of the swine flu outbreak.
Thinking of Jesus as the enemy -- even though those are the very ones we are called to love! -- that's tough. That'll take an act of God. But ... but ... if I can't, then WTH am I doing, doing anything with Jesus in the first place?
I can try, is all.
But I can't wait until the Right starts saying: "The Bible is not a suicide pact."
Every population has the potential.
we are seeing it develope even more now.
There is a big difference however about those who have a negative gut reaction and those who kick you in the gut.
I wouldn't say we locked horns on this matter, ER. I'd say we had a rather surprisingly polite discussion on whether Jesus would torture.
As you know, I at first suggested you ask Jesus Himself after He returns with tens of thousands of His angels to fill the valley of Meggido with blood up to the height of a horse's bridle.
That Jesus doesn't appear to fit your conception of a Jesus who loves everyone regardless of their offenses against Him.
But, in actuallity, Jesus does love everyone regardless of their offense.
However, Jesus is also Just (as in "justice"), and that seems to be the particular personality trait of Jesus you seem to disregard.
He loves the sinner, but He will ultimately punish the unjust, if they never repent this side of death.
Then, I thought about it further, and said, Jesus would not have to torture, as He already knows what evil plans our enemies are forming in their hearts. For that matter, Jesus, if He chooses, would prevent the attacks, also.
We can only surmise why He doesn't. That's one of those mysteries we likely won't understand until we are in His physical presence.
Mortal men, such as ourselves, don't have that advantage, so we must rely on whatever tools we find effective to gather such intelligence. Without the foreknowledge that was provided by captured enemy combatants, and gathered through use of what possibly (possibly not)is some form of torture, thousands of more innocent American citizens might have been savagely and senselessly murdered.
This, as opposed to our loving enemies, who would simply saw our heads off without remorse.
It's interesting to note, that our enemies don't seem to comprehend any ethical dilemmas in their actions.
I would also like to point out one distinct difference between Jesus and illegal aliens: Jesus would likely obey the law when entering another country.
It isn't all immigrants we Conservatives object to, it's illegal immigrants.
I can't understand why non-Conservatives don't understand the difference. One is legal. The other is not. Is it a concept too simple to grasp?
Whether it is a God fearing Christian man and his God fearing Family who only want to make a (legal) better living for themselves or a drug crazed murdering criminal with nothing but death and destruction in mind. They are both illegal if they enter this country without going through proper channels.
I will agree the legal immigration process is needlessly long, tedious, and clogged with miles of needless red tape, but that, nevertheless is the law.
Yes, we need to streamline the process of legal immigration and make it less complicated, but for now, we must follow the law. And so do immigrants.
Remember, Jesus also said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's". Wasn't He speaking of following the laws of the current Government, repressive or not?
Lastly, I don't get what the story of the road to Emmaus has to do with immigration, legal or not.
Yer right! It was polite, and it was surprising that it was.
Re, "As you know, I at first suggested you ask Jesus Himself after He returns with tens of thousands of His angels to fill the valley of Meggido with blood up to the height of a horse's bridle. ... That Jesus doesn't appear to fit your conception of a Jesus who loves everyone regardless of their offenses against Him."
Well. The horses and blood are for another thread.
As for what it means that Jesus will judge all, I'll say that no one is a better judge than one who loves and knows the judged the best. Therefore, I think -- and I believe it's totally biblical -- that Jesus, who knows us best, and who loves us most, will execute at the same instant all of that: knowledge, love and judgment. Yes, I'll accept that the Jesus of Revelation will judge us! But, O, He loves us! He knows us! Yes! All WILL bend their knee and call him Lord -- but I believe it's because the Lord will have so KNOWN all, and still yet will LOVE all, that ALL (except the truly, ultimately SELFish, whatever that means, if it means anything), will collapse in His Love, and Knowledge, and Judgment.
Re, "He loves the sinner, but He will ultimately punish the unjust, if they never repent this side of death."
Jesus will ultimately "punish" no one, although He may ultimately allow those whose self-punishment goes, ultimately, unrepented, may suffer from their own selfness.
As for the "intelligence" that might possibly be gathered through torturous techniques, that's a psychological-philisophical-poltical-worldly question, which, actually, has little to do with the question, "What would Jesus do?" because I'm positive that Jesus wouldn't give much of a rip about whether "us" or "them" "won." I'm not saying that's not an issue the United States should be concerned with. I *am* saying that I wonder whether a follower of Jesus should be concerned with it.
Re, "This, as opposed to our loving enemies, who would simply saw our heads off without remorse."
Another tough question. Jesus *did* succumb himself to the Roman government, which did kill him.
Rem, "It's interesting to note, that our enemies don't seem to comprehend any ethical dilemmas in their actions."
Irrelevant to the question posed.
Re, "Jesus would likely obey the law when entering another country."
Why the heck would you say that?? Jesus didn't obey the Jewish rules and regulations of his day!!! Jesus was an outlaw.
Re, "It isn't all immigrants we Conservatives object to, it's illegal immigrants. I can't understand why non-Conservatives don't understand the difference. One is legal. The other is not. Is it a concept too simple to grasp?"
I get it. As an American, I do really get it. As a Christian, I'm not convinced.
Re, "Remember, Jesus also said, 'Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's.' Wasn't He speaking of following the laws of the current Government, repressive or not?"
Good question. To be honest, I think not. Rendering unto government government's evils has result in too much evil!
Re, "Lastly, I don't get what the story of the road to Emmaus has to do with immigration, legal or not."
I agree with you there. All of it!
"Jesus will ultimately "punish" no one, although He may ultimately allow those whose self-punishment goes, ultimately, unrepented, may suffer from their own selfness."
Yep, you're right. I can't believe I didn't say that! I have often said, when someone accuses God of condmning people to Hell, that God doesn't condemn anyone. They condemn themselves. My bad.
""Jesus came near and started walking along beside them. But they did not know who he was."
Can't agree with you on this one.
He wasn't an alien. He was changed. His body was no longer recognizable after His resurrection, because He had reason to conceal His identity until the proper time. Remember Mary thought the resurrected Jesus was the gardener.
It is also possible, that the disciples and Mary were in denial that Jesus could actually be alive again, even though He repeatedly told them He would rise again.
I mean, the concept goes against physical laws, does it not? Perfectly understand able that they wouldn't have recognized Him under those circumstances.
No matter. The tradition we both inherited insists that He is both. You emphasize Christ, for your own ends; I emphasis the sweaty, anxious Jesus, for mine. I'm learning to let you cling to yours.
But, now: Tell me, whichever you cling to, how can you stomach torture? It cannot be accepted in the name of ChristJesus, whichever facet of the Savior you emphasize.
And how can you think so lowly of immigrants, aliens, to this land -- whether or not they're legal -- and wear the name of ChristJesus? I can't do it. How do you manahe it?
I want to know. The point of this post was to suggest that I don't think I can advovate bombing the Taliban just because it's 60 miles from Islamabad and call myself a Christian.
It's a work in progress, this following ChristJesus. I've done my best to explain myself. I invite you to explain yourself.
Maybe it is simple in one respect if anyone legal or illegal needs help as an individual I would give it.
But as a matter of law and public policy what has gone before will not work for the future. We can't keep our borders closed to long and open. We can't give amnesty, Regan tried that and it just postponed the problem. We can't just open the borders and let any and everybody in. On the other hand the current legal limit of 1000 legal immigrants from Mexico per year is ludacris and just makes them ignore it completely.
But there are 12 or 20 million illegal aliens already here.
Just about all of the possible solutions are lose/lose in nature.
Then there is the wild card, climate change. Hotter then colder, burn up or ice age, as a geographer I'll bet on hot first then ice age pronto.
We may end up invading Mexico anyway to compensate for our lose of farm lands.
Of course we could just take over Canada and Mexico, annex their states and provinces as States w/in the U.S. and get it over with.
Or just maybe the swine flu will kill so many of us that we will need everybody we can get.
I do hope Mark feels as streongly about ALL the laws under which he lives, so he's rendering everything Caesar to federal Caesar.
Perhaps together with legalizing marijuana.
My own thinking on the immigration question has to do with what I personally think, and what I personally say about what I think, as a Christian. What the policy of our government is, is one thing. What my personal witness is, is another.
I did a terrible job of drawing the connection. I think it's this:
Some lessons from the story are these: 1., the Jesus followers learned from the Stranger they met on the road; 2., it was only after they invited the Stranger into their midst, and broke bread with him, that Jesus revealed himself to them, or they realized it was Jesus (take your pick); 3., Jesus is found in our enemy, in the Other, in the Stranger; 4. however we treat our enemies, others and strangers (aliens, illegal or legal) is how we treat Jesus.
What DrLobo said about how he would interact personally with someone is the first question; and, I think, in this country, as Christians living in a system where We, the People ARE CAESAR, whatever our answer is should inform how we come to any position on matters surrounding national immigration policy.
He lived in a mansion. It probably was priced, when he bought it, at least a million dollars, maybe more.
He said, "You'd think someone who lives in a house like this would be rich, wouldn't you? Well, the truth is, we're about to lose this house. I haven't worked in 16 months."
I asked him what he did for a living.
He replied he is a carpenter, and his company keeps getting underbid on new construction contracts because his competitors hire illegal immigrants who work under the table for cash, far below the national minimum wage. He said the last time he bid on a job, he offered 1968 prices and was still underbid.
You know, this man may be one of those evil rich, or, at least once was, but I did not see him that way. I saw him as one of God's creatures who is in need of God's blessing. A man who is desperately trying to keep his head above water, and keep his family fed.
A man who would not be in this position were it not for the failure of all administrations, including Reagan's, to keep illegals out of our country.
Now, put yourself in his place, as Jesus would ask you to do. Would you want to lose everything you have and worked for to be taken away from you because you follow the law by not hiring illegals while those who don't follow the law prosper?
What about his employees, the regular working men and women who have lost their jobs and can't feed their families because illegals have come in and taken their jobs?
What do you say to them? To their families? Jesus wants you to suffer so those who break the law can prosper?
What would Jesus do? What would Jesus have you do?
George W. Bush is as much to blame as anyone. He pushed amnesty despite the protestations of his base, the Conservatives in the republican party.
If Obama really cared for the American middle class as he keeps saying, why doesn't he do something to stop the influx of illegals who are stealing American jobs from Americans, instead of encouraging them by appointing Janet Napolitano, a woman who won't even admit there's a problem, who thinks the 9/11 attackers came over the border from Canada, as sec of Homeland Security?
And, supposing when you asked your boss why this man is sitting in your chair behind your desk, your boss replied, "Well, he works a lot cheaper than you'd be willing to, because we don't have to pay him with a paycheck. He works under the table, for $2.00 an hour."
And supposing you couldn't find another job anywhere because all those jobs are now occupied by illegal aliens who work for less than you would be willing to?
What do you suppose would Jesus do if he were placed in that position? What do you suppose He'd have you do?
I'm sorry - in the middle of the greatest nationwide construction crash of our lifetime in both housing and commercial real estate, it is classic scapegoating to blame illegal immigrant competition for a given construction company's bust. In every downturn, trade and immigrants get the blame for job losses. You're taking this guy at his word for the cause, and every economic indicator shows a bigger problem, completely unrelated to illegal immigration.
This is on office construction from Calculated Risk, a financial and real estate blog:
Voit released quarterly reports today for CRE in Las Vegas, San Diego and Orange County.
The reports show the vacancy rates are up, and lease rates (falling rents), net absorption, transactions and construction are all down.
It appears new construction has all but stopped. Here are a couple of graphs for Orange County and San Diego. We are seeing a similar pattern nationwide, although new construction in these areas probably slowed earlier than most of the country.This is about Housing, from the Dept. of Housing:
Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 510,000. This is 10.8 percent (±11.6%)* below
the revised February estimate of 572,000 and is 48.4 percent (±5.9%) below the March 2008 rate of 988,000.Every recession, the blame is apportioned the same way, and it's always wrong. Make him prove it to you.