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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our Achilles Heel

…the 1776-1783 (American Revolution) conflict contained two strategical problems… The first of these was that once the American rebellion spread, its suppression involved large-scale continental fighting by British forces at a distance of 3,000 miles from the home base… maritime superiority alone could not bring the largely self-sufficient colonists to their knees… To conquer and hold the entire eastern territories of America would have been a difficult task for Napoleon’s Grand Army, let alone the British-led troops of the 1770’s The distances involved… exacerbated the logistical problems: “every biscuit, man, and bullet required by the British forces in America had to be transported across 3,000 miles of ocean” (D. Syrett, Shipping and The American War 1775-1783[London 1970]) … Moreover, colonial society was so decentralized that the capture of a city or large town meant little. Only when the regular troops were in occupation of the territory in question could British authority prevail; whenever they were withdrawn, the rebels reasserted themselves over the loyalists… (How many troops were) now needed to reimpose imperial rule—150,000, perhaps 250,000 “It is probable,” one historian has argued, “that to restore British Aurthority in America was a problem beyond the power of military means to solve, however perfectly applied.” (Barnett, C. Britain and Her Army 1509-1970: A Military, Political and Social Survey. London, 1970 page 225)
Paul Kennedy The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000

The Vietnamese understood this. The Mujahadeen understood it in the 1980's.
The insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban/AlQaida know that their greatest weapon is time. They're permanent, we're temporary.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lawrence's Algebra of Asymetrical War

I left a comment at Private Buffoon mentioning T. E. Lawrence's equation for revolt against an outside power. He's asked me to write a guest post for his site. Which I am honored to supply.
Russ has had a few posts explaining how great powers lose small wars. The term for this type of warfare is referred to as asymetrical, ie how did Hannibal lose the Second Punic War when he constantly defeated the Romans? How did England lose America? How did the U.S. lose in Vietnam?

T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) figured it out and wrote it down in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Wonderfully available on the web free of charge. Public domain is soooo nice.

Here is his equation:

Then I figured out how many men they (Turks) would need to sit on all this ground, to save it from our attack-in-depth, sedition putting up her head in every unoccupied one off those hundred thousand square miles. I knew the Turkish Army exactly, and even allowing for their recent extension of faculty by aeroplanes and guns and armoured trains (which made the earth a smaller battlefield) still it seemed they would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and post could not be less than twenty men. If so they would need six hundred thousand men to meet the ill-wills of all the Arab peoples, combined with all the active hostility of a few zealots.
How many zealots could we have? At present we had fifty thousand, sufficient for the day. It seemed the assets in this element of war were ours... The Turks were stupid, the Germans behind them dogmatical. They would believe that rebellion was absolute like war, and deal with it on the analogy of war. Analogy in human things was fudge, anyhow; and war upon rebellion was messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife.

He goes on to explain that to win the war they didn't need to kill Turks, only thier materials. Tear up the rail lines, make them have to constantly repair and replace what was destroyed and eventually the monetary cost would make them leave.

Golly Gee does that sound like what's happening to us in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Russ posted this over at his site (see link above) and added this. I thought it pertinent to add it here.
FYI: using the "20 men every 4 square miles" rule equates to a force in Afghanistan of about 1.25Mn!
Given modern communication systems, improved war-making technology, etc., suppose Lawrence's estimate could be halved: that's still more than 600K troops.
... and this seems close to the troop/area ratio Shinseki had in mind for Iraq when he proposed a force of "several hundred thousand" needed to pacify the country following the invasion (taking "several" to mean 3-5... middle = 400K).

So... when was the last time you heard anyone propose sending 500K additional troops to Afghanistan?
When do you think you WILL hear anyone propose sending 500K additional troops to Afghanistan?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back Home

Back home from convention. Yesterday was the first time I played Marty Sanchez in Santa Fe. I birdied (one under par) the first hole. I won't talk about the other holes except to say I did par two others. For the first time to get a birdie and two pars is really good for me. It's a beautiful course. Grinnygranny came along and rode with me and she took some pictures of the course. When I get them developed I'll post 'em.
It's always wonderful to spend time in Glorieta. Tomorrow it's back to the classroom.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Obama Playing It Cool

Anything Adirondak has said since the beginning of the health care debate that Obama has been dealt five aces and he would get a plan through. I'm coming around to his logic.
The Huffington post today has been fussing that the Senate is getting ready to pass health care with a public option without Obama's leadership. It's meant to make Obama come out in support of the public option.
I am becoming convinced that Obama doesn't have to micro manage this issue. He told Congress to come up with a plan. Over the summer it didn't look like they would get one out of committee, the screaming and fussing by the tea baggers and the wingnuts looked like it would be killed. Then a strange thing happened, as the battle lines were drawn it started dawning on the dems that if they caved on this issue they'd be run out of Washington on a rail of public anger.
So a committee passed a plan without a public option. This means the bill will go to the floor for debate. but now Harry Reid (president pro tem) is saying that he has the votes to pass the bill with a public option, and many that were previously opposed to a public option are either wavering or seeing the light.
Speaker of the House, Pelosi has said from the beginning that they would not support a health bill without a public option. The senate is starting to face political reality. Even Paul Krugman is optimistic that health care will be passed.
Obama has played his cards beautifully. Unlike Clinton who tried to pass the legislation from the top down. Obama has told congress to do their job and serve the people. This will not be Obama's bill. He has no fingerprints. This will be a Democratic party bill. (The lone Republican vote, Snowe has said she won't vote for a public option). It will most likely pass without a single Repub vote and the Dems can take all the glory. Just like Social Security and Medicare once it's passed it will turn into a very popular public service that no politician should touch (third rail, the electrified rail in the subway). They're now talking about a trigger for the public option, but the pressure being put on congress now by the grass roots supporters of health reform should keep their feet to the fire and stop this attempt at sleight of hand.
For once I have reason to be optimistic.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Looking forward

I'm looking forward to a little rest. The state convention starts Monday with a round of golf at Marty Sanchez golf course in Santa Fe. I've taken my personal days for Monday and Tuesday. I've never played the course in Santa Fe but have always wanted to. It'll be nice to spend a night in Glorieta as well.
I played in a tournament at Desert Greens today, didn't do bad, but also didn't win anything. It took six hours to play the round. It was really slow. I'll need to rest up tomorrow for Monday.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bummed out

The Bum's (Dodgers) fell short again. I was looking forward to an all LA world series. Angles are still alive, but the thrill is gone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Different Perspective

Leaving independent Baptist churches for SBC churches wasn't that big of an adjustment. The same underlying belief system was pretty much the same. When I graduated from high school and left for college I would have preached out of Hal Linday's book The Late Great Planet Earth. It was all I knew.
My freshman year at Wayland as all students were required I took Old Testament history and New Testament history. In both classes I was privileged to have Dr. J Iviloy Bishop. As he referred to himself "The Baptist Bishop." This was the first time I encountered the neutral approach. I was a "Gap theorist" concerning creation (a whole other issue not enough time to explain) and a premillennialist. In Old Testament class he listed and explained a dozen different theories on creation. There were a couple of students that would spend half the class trying to get him to tell us which one he believed, and he wouldn't do it. This drove those students crazy and you could tell he loved driving them bonkers. I started preaching for TANE (Texas Alcohol and Narcotics Education) going to area churches raising money for the organization. It was a chance to preach for a preacher boy. Dr. Bishop was the area coordinator and had the organization car. We traveled all over West Texas preaching in small churches, usually a group of four to six. It made for some interesting conversations outside of the classroom.
The Spring semester in New Testament history is where he stopped me in my tracks. When we were discussing the reason Jesus came here was to save mankind spiritually (eternal life), and that his disciples didn't get it. They were expecting him to set up an Earthly kingdom. Dr. Bishop then asked the question: "If Christ's ministry was spiritual then, why would it be different now?"
When it dawned on me that it wouldn't I realized premillennialism is based on the same misconception that Jesus is going to set up an Earthly kingdom. The disciples were wrong then and so is this theory. I didn't have much to replace the theory with at this time, but I knew from that point on I didn't need to dread and fear the future. That all the horrible things spoken about in Revelations weren't going to happen to me.
When I came home that summer Bruce gave me his copy of Ray Summer's Worthy Is The Lamb.
Dr. Winters had given him the book, he'd finished it and I read it over that summer. It's not an easy book to read. The other book Ray Summers is know for is the textbook for New Testament Greek." To say the least he's very academic in his prose. The first half of the book is an analysis of all apocalyptic literature and their purpose. Wading through this was tough.
The second half of the book is an exposition (explanation) of Revelations. This part of the book is much easier to read. He starts with a premise that I could whole heartedly agree with, and still do: In order to understand Revelation know what it said to the readers of that day, not ours. It has to be interpreted in the light of 1st century thought.
To those not really into this sort of thing, that might not seem like much, but for me it was like a 10.0 on the richter scale.
1. The book was written symbolically to deceive the Roman guards. It was in code, just like Daniel and Ezekiel. (There was a method to his madness in the first half of the book), and as with all codes you need the key to fully understand it. Fundamentalists interpret everything literally, which is the wrong key for this code.
2. Apocalyptic literature is written to people who are oppressed and despairing. The message is always one of hope for them to persevere and not give up. No matter how bad things are now, there will be a better tomorrow. It uplifts the readers spirit instead of filling them with dread.
3. He then ties in all the horrible things mentioned in tribulation and great tribulation putting them into historical context.
4. Lastly he points out that The Beast represents the Roman Empire and the Anti-Christ is Emperor worship, what the Christians of the day were being persecuted for: refusing to offer sacrifice to the emperor. Revelations is a hand book on surviving oppression and tyranny, not a blue print on how the world will end.

I've been at peace concerning the future from the day I finished this book up to this day. The future holds no fear or dread. It is not preordained as to what will happen. It's an open book not a closed one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hitting a nerve

Here's some political cartoons that have put a smile on my face today. Thanks to Yikes blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Leaving Fear Behind

My junior year in high school we attended Del Norte Baptist Church. I don't remember any of the pastor's sermons, they were kind of so-so. Roy Garner was the music director. That year we put on a cantata where I sang the part of Pontius Pilate and Bruce was Jesus. At Easter we put on Handel's Messiah (ending at the Hallelujah chorus). I had a girl friend in the church so it was a pretty good year. Over the summer things fell apart. Roy wound up declaring bankruptcy over a set of hand bells, who thought they were that expensive, and Sandia Baptist Church was doing a youth musical. Bruce moved his membership to Sandia. I was reluctant to leave this church but without much of a choir program there wasn't much holding me there except the girlfriend. I finally moved my membership to Sandia and we dated for another six months. I was a senior, she was a freshman at UNM. It took her a whole semester to figure out I was cramping her style.
The pastor at Sandia was Dr. Doyle Winters. He was the most intelligent pastor I've ever met. He didn't pontificate like an old testament prophet, he made you think, explore and want to learn more. I read a little book that year called How To Be a Christian Without Being Religious. Other books were by Charles Shedd: The Stork Is Dead, Letters to Phillip and Letters to Karen. The youth group was doing a musical called Natural High. Bruce joined the band with his trumpet and I joined the chorus. It was intense, but the performances were very rewarding.
A funny thing happened one Sunday night. Bruce and I went to church together in his car. After the service he came up to me handed me his keys and said he was catching another ride home. You could have picked me up off the floor with a spatula. It was the first and only time I ever drove his car. The pastor's daughter had offered to take someone home and Bruce volunteered. They became an item. Bruce had a little fender bender and he painted it purple, Kylene's favorite color. That's when we knew she had hooked him.
I had a wonderful Sunday school teacher that year who would be there to give me invaluable advice years later when I was going through my divorce. The youth group started a new musical in the spring named Show Me. We put on performances all summer the last one in a Catholic Church. After the one girl and broke up and I knew I'd be going off to college on a scholarship I purposely didn't get attached, even though Kylene and her mother had a number of girls picked out for me, which my mother dutifully told me about.
Most of the kids in the youth group went to Oklahoma Baptist College, but they didn't have a track team then. I was offered a scholarship by Wayland (Baylor passed), and there were two members of the youth group going there too. They were dating, but didn't want to get married until after their first year, so Gary and I left for college as roommates.
Returning to the SBC didn't change my thoughts on the end times. Dr. Winters didn't preach on it and his sermons inspired instead of left you trembling in fear. The music uplifted and filled me with joy even though the guys in the shower after practice thought I was weird for singing the Hallelujah chorus.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Captain's Log

I had another rant today, but decided not to break the flow of what I'm writing about here so it's over at my Captain's log blog, should you be so inclined to read me blowing off steam.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fellow Traveler

Frank Shaeffer is the son of Francis Shaeffer (one of the twentieth centuries' most noted fundamentalist voices) and at one time continued in his father's ministry. He too has rejected the dark side of faith. I've read numerous articles by him and he is quite enlightening. Today at Altnet there is an excerpt from his coming book: Patience With God: Faith for People who don't like Religion (or Athiesm). You can read the entire excerpt here.
These are some quotes that hit my buttons:

Speaking at length about the Left Behind series of books, The words left behind are ironically what the books are about, but not in the way their authors intended. The evangelical/fundamentalists, from their crudest egocentric celebrities to their "intellectuals" touring college campuses trying to make evangelicalism respectable, have been left behind by modernity. They won't change their literalistic anti-science, anti-education, anti-everything superstitions, so now they nurse a deep grievance against "the world." This has led to a profound fear of the "other."

Concerning Dominionism: (I told you these people are scary)

I knew the founders of the dominionist movement -- people like the late Reverend Rousas John Rushdoony, the father of "Christian Reconstructionism" and the modern evangelical/fundamentalist home school movement. Rushdoony (whom I met and talked with several times) believed that interracial marriage, which he referred to as "unequal yoking," should be made illegal. He also opposed "enforced integration," referred to Southern slavery as "benevolent," and said that "some people are by nature slaves." Rushdoony was also a Holocaust denier. And yet his home school materials are a mainstay of the right-wing evangelical home school movement to this day. In Rushdoony's 1973 book, The Institutes of Biblical Law, he says that fundamentalist Christians must "take control of governments and impose strict biblical law" on America and then the world. That would mean the death penalty for "practicing homosexuals."

Perhaps the best quote:

Christian Zionists are yet another reason why I and countless other Christians, including many of the more moderate evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox are hesitant to be labeled "Christian." Who wants to be confused with some of the most dangerous and stupid people in the world: nuclear-armed, paranoid evangelical/fundamentalist Bible thumpers rooting for Armageddon and worrying in paranoid "official" documents about being forced to become like "the Europeans"? (Just a thought: does that make high-speed rail service a tool of the Devil?)

Monday, October 12, 2009

For What its Worth

The Consumers Union survey of 1,002 adults from Sept. 17 to 20 found that among the ways people have tried to cut back on health care costs:

  • 28 percent put off doctors' visits.
  • 25 percent have been unable to afford medical bills or medication.
  • 22 percent put off medical procedures.
  • 20 percent declined medical tests.
  • 20 percent skipped filling prescriptions.
  • 15 percent took expired medication.
  • 15 percent skipped scheduled dosages of prescriptions.

The problems were more prevalent among households with incomes of less than $50,000 , in which about two-thirds said they'd cut back on health care because of costs. Even where income topped $100,000 , however, about one-third made similar decisions.

The insurance lobby, the wingnuts and teabaggers can deny reality all they want, but there are too many people being ruined financially and dying due to the rationing of medical care by insurance companies right now for anyone to take them seriously.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bottoming Out in Fundamentalism

Sophomore year in high school Bruce and I switched churches. Dad was working graveyard shifts as a security guard and doing his student teaching. Mom took a sabbatical.
We moved our membership to Temple Baptist Church. Curtis Goldman was pastor, and a man I still greatly admire. He was social gospel and fundamentalist to the core, but not the old testament prophet kind. He was actually very open minded. At the time he allowed a hippie class. The church ran twenty to thirty busses every Sunday. At this time a church could pick up a used bus from the schools, use members of the church that were mechanics to fix them up labor free, and pick up kids from all over the city to attend services.
There was a large youth group with lots of good looking girls always a magnate for boys. It was here that Bruce met his best friend, Dave. Bruce was a senior, Dave was a junior and I was sophomore and I kind of tagged along. We'd play tennis taking turns with the winner playing the odd man out. Bruce would beat me, Dave would beat Bruce and I'd beat Dave (or was it the other way around?)
The summer camp that year is one that's burned on my memory to this day. In the barracks after lights out for about thirty minutes or so there would be a little goofing off to tick of the preachers trying to get us quiet. Dennis Elliot pulled out a recorder (straight flute) and started playing. Then next day I asked him about it and he showed it to me. I played clarinet so it intrigued me. When I got back to the city I bought one (they're rather cheap). I'd quit band to concentrate on running. The recorder was an easy way to keep playing an instrument to de-stress. Today I have a wooden soprano and an alto recorder. I haven't played them in some time and I have them hanging on a wall to this day as a reminder of Dennis.
Dennis and David Elliot were twins. On December 23, 1971 they were hit by a drunk driver and Dennis was killed. I've never seen or heard a pastor handle such a tragedy as adeptly as Reverend Goldman. He comforted the grieving family and all those who knew him. When I was in college a woman that we knew well committed suicide. I was home for Spring break the day after her husband found her. We went over to her house to comfort our friends who'd lost their mother. Rev. Goldman was in with their father. He then walked him to the garage where he'd found her hanging as he came home from a trip. It was the first time he'd gone back into the garage. I was at a loss on what to say other than to let our friends know how much we cared about their pain. At the funeral I had no idea what the pastor could say. Rev. Goldman reassured everyone that the woman was definitely saved and that he was certain that when she met Jesus she looked at him and said, "I did wrong didn't I?"
And that Jesus would then say, "Yes you did child, but you're forgiven."
I've never heard such comforting words spoken is such horrible circumstances.
Many years later I played a round of golf with Rev. Goldman. He was just getting his strength back from a round of chemo therapy (and he kicked my ass). It was the first time I ever had to tell him how touching his words were with both Dennis and this lady's funerals.
He's the only fundamentalist preacher I've ever encountered that had a heart. He ministered to his flock, not just acting like an old testament judge.
When Dad started teaching my junior year he decided we'd all move our membership to a Southern Baptist Church, the one closest to where we lived. I didn't want to leave Temple Baptist (since I was rather sweet on a young lady that attended a different high school and knew that we'd never see each other again). Dad was rather insistent so we moved our membership to Del Norte Baptist Church.
Theologically I stayed with literal interpretation and premillennial belief in the end times; mainly because I'd never heard another way to see things.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

An Award

Yogi was generous and has awarded me with the Best Blog Award. He's a rather recent addition to my friends list, but is quite welcome and I'm grateful for the award, as well as his interest in buying a copy of Optimus. I'd like to pass this on to Bruce, but Yogi beat me to it.

I'm now supposed to award 15 friends with this award. I'm not sure I have that many loyal blog followers, but here goes.

1. How could I possibly hand out an award like this and not pass it on to my mother? Here's to the woman that no matter what is always on the go.
2. Though she hasn't felt like posting in some time, I do live with her and she reads what I write, so my next award goes to Grinnygranny.
3. So many of my friends seem to be from Oklahoma and Brian at audience of 1 almost makes me want to teach in that state of tornados just to be under his administration. I can't talk him into moving out here. Many of the other bloggers I comment with I met on his blog. he's a special friend. He used to post prolifically, but alas life got in the way: he's now happily married and doesn't post much anymore. I did send him a copy of Optimus when it was first published and he was so gracious to write a review that I've posted on my blog. He more than deserves this award.
4. Another blogger friend that life has interrupted the level of posting is Irina at ignoble experiment. She's just finished taking her bar exam in New York State and is most likely on pins and needles to find out if she passed. Here's wishing her well on her law career and she most definitely deserves this award.
5. Streak is someone I met off of Bruce's blog. He's a fellow Okie and has many good political posts.
6. Yikes is a lobbyist in Washington DC. She has the best political cartoon roundup every Sunday. Always a good visit. Being even more disappointed in Obama's performance so far, she really deserves this award.
7. I've mentioned Michael Prescott numerous times. I enjoy reading his mystery novels. His blog always has enlightened though long winded comments. He's really into parapsychology, which I'm kind of so-so on, but lately he's been posting about the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship. His post comparing Polonius in Hamlet to William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, Elizabeth's chief minister was very enlightening.
8. It's a shame that so many of the friends I've enjoyed reading and commenting with seem to be getting a life and have slowed down on blogging. Thurman at Xpatriated Texan isn't as prolific as he used to be, but he was the first blogger I read that made sense on proposing expanding Medicare to the general population, which would be so much better than the bills being debated in Congress right now.
9. Russ is one of the curmudgeons. He has much on his plate right now and many in his shoes would pull the covers over their head and hide. If anyone deserves this award it is him. I salute you Russ for deciding that instead of hiding you'll express yourself by posting even more.
10. Woody is the other local curmudgeon. His language is a bit rough, and in the last post some of it rubbed off on me. (Mom will thoroughly chastise me for that). At first when I started reading him I thought he was just a little too far left for me, but the more I see what he says actually coming to pass I'm starting to lean his way. Hippies forever.
11. Out of the cornfield is a curmudgeon we're looking forward to meeting whenever he can make it down here for a brew or two. He keeps me posted on what's happening in Colorado.
12. Anything Adirondak used to live in NM, but now he's way back east. He's decided that Bruce is at least one Baptist preacher he agrees with, likes to talk cars (he's a salesman), posts great pictures of colorful mountains, has videos of aspiring musicians and is the eternal optimist when it comes to health care. Believe it or not I think he's right.
13. I'm giving this award to Ms Penni posthumously.
14. Auntypesty will get the award whenever she starts posting again.
15. My most loyal reader and commenter is Michael Manning. I can't remember how we stumbled upon each other, but it has been a joy over the years to read his posts from Friday night movies, Steve McQueen Film Festival (coming up by the way). His wonderful work with children stricken with cancer, and others with various illnesses he empathizes with, his interviews with top CEO's of airlines and other fields. He deserves ten of these awards.

Okay, not it's up to you to pass the award along to others that you're friends with.

The Republican Recipe

Albuquerque is 60% registered democrats and about 30% registered republicans with 10% independent. Last night an unknown republican was elected mayor over an eight year incumbent and he'd been mayor previously making a total of 12 years (nonconsecutive) as mayor. How did this happen, and why can a political party that many people think is bankrupt of ideas and support still get people elected?
Here's their recipe:
Step 1: In a back room, preferable smoke filled, choose one person to run for that office. Keep the process hidden so the general public doesn't see the bloodshed.
Step 2: Keep your talking points simple. ie law and order, lower taxes, run government like a business, the usual.
Step 3: Sit back and let the democrats split the vote between two, three or four egomaniacs that no matter what the polls say believe they can be elected.
Step 4: Right before the election throw mud at the leading democratic candidate's character, but don't give them time to respond.

This recipe worked yesterday.
Marty Chavez was running for his third straight term and should have been a shoo in, the Republican only got 43% of the vote. As Mercutio tells Romeo, "T'is a scratch, but t'is enough."
You see Richard Romero was also running for mayor, and he got 21% of the vote, just enough to let the repub get over the 40% mark. If he'd been under it there would have been a run-off that Marty would most likely have won hands down.
Republicans don't have to win elections. The democrats give them away.

How did Bush get elected in 2000 and 2004? Thank Ralph Nader, both times. The republicans even financed his campaign in 2004. Green Party my ass, disgruntled democrat that only had thoughts of himself and fucking the country by giving us Bushco. If he really wanted to serve his country he could have dropped out of both races and endorse Gore and Kerry to swing it their way. Romero could have done the same. But nooooooo their egos wouldn't let them do the right thing. Now for the next four years we're stuck with a mayor that will open the cities coffers up to fat cat business men and the average citizen is going to get a twelve pronged metal suppository.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


I was thinking while writing the last post that many of those from around the world might not understand what I"m talking about, so I thought I'd explain in my own mindset what those ideas are.

Fundamentalism: You can look up a dictionary definition, but my experience is with Baptist fundamentalism, not Muslim or Hindu or Catholic, though there are similarities. To me a fundamentalist is someone who can only interpret what they hear or read literally. They also think only in the here and now, they have mostly contempt for history, context or other viewpoints. The future is a place of great fear it permeates their lives with dread. Fundamentalists need others to reinforce their point of view which makes them flock together and try to sell their beliefs to others. Everyone must conform to their world view. If they can't convince those that think differently from them to change they change the rules to force non-believers to think like them. This could be changes in churches, denominations and in the general population. It's called the social gospel. Laws against drinking, gambling, illegal drugs, abortion, etc. They insist on legislating their morality.
To me their greatest sin is taking the Lord's name in vain. This commandment isn't only about profanity. It's about claiming that your words and ideas are God's words and ideas. Their literal interpretation of scripture is sacred. The universe was created in a literal six 24 hour days and anyone who thinks otherwise is going to die and go to hell. This obviously means that if anything is taught to the children in biology class our country is going to punished by God. Any natural disaster or terrorist attack automatically becomes the wrath of God. Only a very vain person would believe that anything they think is also what God thinks.

Eschatology or the study of end times:

Premellinnial Dispensationalism: My what a mouthful!
This is the belief that Jesus is coming again. They have an elaborate timeline for "The Second Coming." A) The world is going to become so sinful that God will want to destroy it again (remember Noah and the flood). B) When it gets so bad God can't stand it again Jesus will come in the clouds. The sea and land will give up the dead and the living will join them, where everyone will go right now is not clear, but they will not be present for the horrible things God will do. This is the dispensation or get out of tribulation free card. The meeting with Jesus is called the Rapture (a word not found in the bible). C) There will then be 3 1/2 years of tribulation where a world wide dictator will rise to power (The Beast) and then the last 3 1/2 years will be Great Tribulation where the Anti-Christ will join The Beast and force everyone to have 666 branded or tattooed on their forehead. D) For some inexplicable reason they will then gather a huge army, march to the valley of Meggido in Israel to attack God. Jesus will destroy them and win the battle of Armageddon. Satan, The Beast and Anti-Christ will be locked up for a thousand years. E) Jesus will then set up a thousand year reign here on earth where everyone will learn how to live in sinless perfection. This is the millennium. F) Satan will then be loosed to temp mankind again, nothing is said about what will happen, but it's assumed that man will resist temptation after a thousand years of heavy indoctrination. G) The great white throne judgement. Finally those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book Of Life will go to heaven and all those whose names are not written will be cast into the lake of fire or hell.

Postmillennialism: These are the scary people. They believe that we are already living in Tribulation and that Jesus can't return to set up his millennial reign until the whole world is converted. In order for that to happen they believe that: A) All Jews will convert, but it will take the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem to accomplish this. B) That government leaders will force the unbelieving to convert. C) Government leaders should be preachers who speak for God and pass laws based on the Ten Commandments.
This is also called Dominionism. Glenn Beck sounds absolutely nuts if you don't understand his dominionist motivation. Sarah Palin is a Dominionist. The United States should be the dominion of Jesus where He is King and a theocracy is established. That's why all the music for churches has had a royal message for the last thirty years. Christ is King, The King is Coming, the buzz words are reign, Lord, master, kingdom, majesty, etc. They've been brainwashing the masses that equality is a bad thing. The wingnuts that spit with rage when a democrat is elected president (Clinton or Obama) distrust our constitution and democracy even more because God's will is not being done. Republicans can do no wrong because after all they are anointed by God.

Amillennialism: This interpretation has as its basis the premise that Daniel and Revelations need to be interpreted by historical context. What did it say to the people who read it two thousand years ago? This interpretation also takes into account that the books are apocalypses or allegorical in nature and need to be interpreted symbolically instead of literally. I'll relate my acceptance of this interpretation in future posts.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Descent into fundamentalism

Installment 3 on church.

When we moved back to Albuquerque from Farmington Mom was working for an insurance agent and met a snake oil salesman that pastored a church. He dangled the bait that the church needed an associate pastor and he was interested in Dad. That's when we started going to Fellowship Baptist Church, which was independent, not affiliated with the SBC. There were three such Albuquerque churches loosely linked to the Baptist Bible Colleges set up by Jay Frank Norris in the 1930 when he split with the SBC.
Almost half the families at the church were there because Brother Blue had promised them a shot at associate pastor. This was a very narrow minded group of people. They had this long list of no-no's. No dancing, smoking, drinking, mixed bathing (males and females in the same swimming pool), no card playing, dominoes, the list goes on and on.
Brother Blue would spend ten minutes or more with the congregation's head down after the sermon pressuring everyone to come down to the altar and pray. At my impressionable age it was affective. The man walked back and forth across the stage banging on the podium ranting and raving like the incarnation of Jonathan Edwards preaching Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
We were there Sunday mornings and evenings as well as Wednesday prayer service. There wasn't much prayer to the prayer service it was another opportunity for a sermon.
Not everything about the three years we were members of this church was bad. We started singing in the choir. I was already playing the clarinet, but choir taught me to sing bass not just drop an octave lower than the melody. My first love I met at this church. It was puppy love, but very real to the puppy. She moved half way across the country and I was heartbroken.
For three summers Bruce and I attended the summer camp on the east side of Sandia Mountain. They were very intense experiences. Bruce related his surrendering to preach one summer at this camp. The next summer there was a series of morning lessons brought by Curtis Goldman, the pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Albuquerque. He related the biographies of Adiniram Judson, David Livingstone and William Carey. Three early missionaries and the impact of their lives on India, Burma and Africa. At age fifteen I surrendered to the mission field.
Bruce also relates how most of the end times beliefs were based on the notes in the Schofield Bible, but we were also getting literature in the mail from Ambassador College out of Riverside California. A group headed by Herbert W. Armstrong and then taken over by his son Garner Ted Armstrong. The literature was free (but most people sent money anyway). There was a monthly magazine entitled The World Tomorrow and various tracts. The one tract I remember was 1975 In Prophesy. I read it in 1967 at age 14. It was illustrated with all the bad things that were going to happen to all those left behind (hence the title of Tim LeHaye's series of books) after the rapture and going through Tribulation and Great Tribulation. I easily calculated that the world was going to come to an end when I would only be 22. Though I would be one of those raptured in "the twinkling of an eye" I still felt cheated and wondered why this had to happen in my lifetime.
To my parents credit they always taught Bruce and me to take what Herbie and Brother Blue said with a grain of salt, this world view filled me with a huge sense of dread. Add to the fact that Vietnam was in its escalation phase with a daily body count on the evening news, the civil rights riots and the six day war in the Middle East all going on, there was plenty to dread. My 8th grade year I made a few friends at school that pressured me into smoking. I never lit up a cigarette without feeling God's eyes looking down in sorrow. There was never any joy in smoking. We got caught smoking and I was suspended for three days. Mom made me read Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan during those three days. I was relieved that this gave me a good reason to stop smoking and I've never lit up since. Had I continued to smoke I would never have earned a track scholarship which paid for my college education.
Bruce was given a Sunday school class of 5th grade boys to teach and I approached Brother Blue about teaching too. He gave me 3rd grade boys. I started with three students and by the end of the school year had nine and all nine made professions of faith that year. This added to our time spent at church as we also had to go out on Thursday visitation.
Bruce crossed swords with Brother Blue over the issues he discussed on his blog. I had my class taken away as well. It would take too much space to go into all of the things that happened at this church so suffice it to say when Brother Blue took our classes away we stopped attending that church. Bruce recounts this as his beginning steps to leaving fundamentalism. I was never that enthralled with it. It was much too restrictive for my taste. If there was a dance at school I went and did not feel like I was sinning. I never considered alcohol to be a sin, only drinking in excess. I've always had a pretty innate sense of understanding the spirit of the law and fundamentalism is all about the letter of the law.
I accepted premellinialism concerning the end times (eschatology), but only because I hadn't been exposed to opposing interpretations. In high school Hal Linday came out with his book The Late Great Planet Earth. He extended Herbie's deadline for mankind to 1988 -- a generation (40 years) after the founding of Israel. I still felt cheated that the end time was coming so soon.
Rejoining the SBC will be installment 4.