Category Archives: Life

ANTI-SEMITISM – MEMORIES AND PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Personnel from Chesed Shel Emes Emergency Services and Recovery Unit gather near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. Robert Bowers, the suspect in the mass shooting at the synagogue, expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and told officers afterward that Jews were committing genocide and he wanted them all to die, according to charging documents made public Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The attack on a synagogue on the Sabbath of October 27th was the worst anti-semitic incident in American history.   Similar incidents have taken place throughout history in many countries.

When I was a child growing up in England, I remember going on a school field trip to the city of York.   At the time, I must have been 9 or 10 years of age.

The old Roman city of York is one of the most interesting cities in England.   It was here that Constantine was proclaimed Emperor in 306 AD.   Constantine later converted to Catholicism, turning away from worship of the pagan gods.   The writer, James Carroll, a former Catholic priest, traced anti-Semitism back to Constantine in his book “Constantine’s Sword.”   It was all quite simple – the Jews killed Christ, so they should be persecuted forever.  This has been the teaching of the church down through the centuries.

Four years after William the Conqueror successfully invaded England in 1066, he invited Jews from France to come over.   He believed that their commercial skills and capital would help develop the English economy.   The Jews were not allowed to purchase land (most English people could not, either), but they were allowed to practice medicine and money-lending, the latter breeding resentment against the Jews.

In 1189, following a rumor that the newly crowned King Richard I had ordered a massacre of Jews, mobs in a number of cities across the country attacked and killed Jews.  The worst incident was in the city of York the following year, just before the Passover.

“A significant loss of life occurred at York on the night of March 16 (Shabbat HaGadol,  the Shabbat before Passover) and 17 March 1190.   As crusaders prepared to leave on the Third Crusade, religious fervor resulted in several anti-Jewish violences. Josce, the leader of the Jews in York, asked the warden of York Castle to receive them with their wives and children, and they were accepted into Clifford’s Tower.   However, the tower was besieged by the mob of crusaders, demanding that the Jews convert to Christianity and be baptized.   Trapped in the castle, the Jews were advised by their religious leader, Rabbi Yomtov of Joigney, to kill themselves rather than convert; Josce began by slaying his wife Anna and his two children, and then was killed by Yomtov.   The father of each family killed his wife and children, before Yomtov and Josce set fire to the wooden keep, killing themselves.   The handful of Jews who did not kill themselves died in the fire, or were murdered by rioters.” (Wikipedia:  History of the Jews in England 1066-1290).

Clearly, upon hearing a rumor, the crowds were ready to turn against the Jews.   It should be realized that many of those in the crowd would likely have owed money to the Jewish money-lenders and this was an opportunity to cancel the debts.   Debts to Jewish money-lenders continued to be an issue and not just in England.

“As early as 1198, Pope Innocent III had written to all Christian princes, including Richard of England, calling upon them to compel the remission of all usury demanded by Jews from Christians.   This would render the Jewish community’s very existence impossible.”

“On 15 July 1205, the pope laid down the principle that Jews were doomed to perpetual servitude because they had crucified Jesus. I  n England the secular power soon followed the initiative of the Church.   John, having become indebted to the Jewish community while in Ireland, at first treated Jews with a show of forbearance.   He confirmed the charter of Rabbi Josce and his sons, and made it apply to all the Jews of England; he wrote a sharp remonstrance to the mayor of London against the attacks that were continually being made upon the Jews of that city, alone of all the cities of England.   He reappointed one Jacob archpriest of all the English Jews (12 July,1199).

OTHER REASONS FOR ANTI-SEMITISM

In 1492 Queen Isabella of Spain desired to make her country completely Catholic.   This followed the expulsion of the Muslims who had dominated the country for centuries.   The new law meant that Jews had to convert, emigrate or be burned to death.   Many fled to Poland, which was then the most liberal country in Europe.

During a tour of Krakow some years ago, we were able to see a number of synagogues in the old Jewish Quarter of the medieval city.   Our tour guide related the persecution of Jews in Spain and how many moved to Krakow.   Two years later, the local people turned against them.   I asked our Polish guide why.   His response was interesting. “The Jews were different.   They had different customs.  They went to church on a different day….”   Sabbath observance has always made religious Jews more noticeable wherever they have settled.

Polish persecution of Jews had started prior to the arrival of the Spanish Jews.   It continued on and off into modern times, with a pogrom immediately after the defeat of the Nazis and the arrival of the Soviets in 1945.

This article only touches the surface where anti-semitism is concerned.   The incidents I related from England are what I learned as a child; I mention Krakow as my visit there was a great learning experience.

Auschwitz is close to Krakow.   A visit there was truly traumatic for me personally.   It was bad enough standing in the gas chambers and looking up at the holes in the ceiling that enabled Zykon B to be dropped down amongst those taking a “shower.”   I felt like throwing up when I saw the “accommodations” for inmates – bunk-beds three levels high – people would fight to get the top bunk, so that they would not get “showered on” during the night when those above had to relieve themselves.   (Inmates had permanent diarrhoea because the scarce food was so bad.)   But, what made me “lose it” was the exhibit behind a glass screen, of the hair of little girls taken (after being gassed) from Jewish children and then used to make wigs and other things.   All I could think of was our little girls, our grandchildren when they were 3 or 4.   I had to leave the room.   I had planned on giving a sermon on anti-semitism when I returned to Michigan, but I could not bring myself to give it.   I knew I could not get through the sermon without, once again, losing it.

On another occasion, following a visit to Anne Frank’s House, I wanted to speak on it but couldn’t.  When I looked out the back window of the house at the backyard below, it reminded me so much of my grandparents’ home.   If it could happen here, it might have happened in England; or anywhere else, for that matter.  We are naïve if we think it can never happen here.

As if the Holocaust wasn’t bad enough, hundreds of millions of people around the world have learned nothing from it.   They still hate Jews.   They still blame Jewish bankers when they can’t repay a loan.   Many still think they deserve what they get because they killed Christ when the scriptures make it clear that every single one of us killed Christ.   Note I John 2:2:   “And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone.”  (Good News Translation).   The Contemporary English Version translates the verse this way:  “Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.”   He had to die so that each of us, individually, may receive eternal life.

Jesus Christ Himself was a Jew; so was the Apostle John who wrote those words.

MODERN ANTI-SEMITISM

Complicating the issue of anti-Semitism today is the existence of the modern state of Israel, a nation that came into being exactly 70 years ago.   The Palestinians lost their land and have hated Israel ever since.   Many Muslims also hate Israel in sympathy with the Palestinians.

This hatred of Israel has infected others, partly because of television newsreels showing the suffering of the Palestinian people.   The British Labor Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has a bad record of anti-Semitism.   Fifty years ago, there were fifty Jewish members of parliament, 48 of whom were members of the Labor Party.   Clearly, attitudes have changed.

Modern Israel is, without a doubt, the most successful country in the Middle East.   It is the only western-style democracy.   This Jewish country allows freedom of religion in a region where non-Muslims are suffering from great persecution.   The nation can teach its neighbors lots of lessons, about economic development, freedom and democracy.   I had the privilege of being able to spend a summer in the country in 1973 and was greatly impressed at the development that had taken place in just 25 years.   I would love to go back and see how much further the country has progressed, in spite of wars and internal conflict.

People should remember what God said to Abraham thousands of years ago.

“Now the Lord had said to Abram:  “Get out of your country,
 From your family 
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
   I will make you a great nation;
  I will bless you
  And make your name great;
  And you shall be a blessing.
   I will bless those who bless you,
 And I will curse him who curses you;
 And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”   (Genesis 12:1-3)

No country benefits from anti-Semitism.

The attack on a synagogue last week was the work of one man, an ignorant, hate-filled individual who likely spent too much time looking at websites that blame Jews for everything.   (The internet is also a modern contributor to anti-Semitism.)

Let’s hope and pray it remains an isolated incident in American history.

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US MID-TERMS

The Wall St Journal on Wednesday highlighted the growing divergence amongst American voters on just about every issue.   The divide, the paper showed, is largely between “white women with college degrees and white men without.”   They “are on rapidly diverging tracks.”

In a report on BBC World News America, polls showed the divide was between “big cities and suburbs” and those living in rural areas, which includes small-town America.

Reports on the election are usually quite superficial.   Not realized is that the white blue-collar workers are the primary producers of the nation’s wealth; the people with college degrees are in non-productive jobs.

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CESAR CHAVEZ REMEMBERED

Left-wing protestors across the country are chanting “Yes, we can” in opposition to the president’s stance on illegal immigration.

But few, if any, remember who first used this expression.

Tucker Carlson showed a few days ago that it was Cesar Chavez, the (Hispanic) United Farm Workers Union president who was very left-wing and, yes, against illegal immigration.

“Yes, we can SEAL THE BORDERS,” was the original chant.

Mr. Chavez, concerned for the members of his union, realized that illegals would only force down wages, making things harder for those at the lower end of the income spectrum.  The last thing he wanted was more Mexicans in the country.

It’s ironic that the Democrats have ended up supporting illegals.   It was not always thus.   When the boat people started arriving from Vietnam 40 years ago, California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown did not want them in his state, which was already finding it difficult to cope with poverty and unemployment.   Today, Jerry Brown encourages more immigration.

Why the change?

Because it’s now known that 90% of illegals vote for the Democrats once they become registered voters.

It’s all about power!

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The Caravan to Nowhere – The march from Honduras echoes the 1980 Mariel boatlift, by The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22, 2018, 7:27 p.m. ET

These columns favor generous immigration and asylum for refugees. But when migration becomes a political weapon to foment border chaos, leaders have no choice other than to step in and protect national security.   Exhibit A are the 4,000 or so Central Americans moving on foot through Mexico to the U.S.

Waves of humanity marching in lock step don’t materialize spontaneously and neither has this “caravan.”   This march is organized and not necessarily for the benefit of the migrants.   Mr. Trump has good reason to turn it back.

(https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-caravan-to-nowhere-1540250858?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=8)

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BOOK QUOTE

One of the best books I’ve read recently was “Sword and Scimitar” by Raymond Ibrahim.   It’s a new book that looks at the history of the 1,400-year-old struggle between Islam and the West, which continues to this day.

(Suggestion:   do what I did.   I requested the local library buy a copy.   That way, dozens of people may wake up to what is happening!)

Love and Justice, Sin and Hell  (Extracted from: Sword and Scimitar by Raymond Ibrahim, Page 130-131)

Having discussed the doctrine of jihad and its motivations at some length (see Introduction) here it is necessary to compare and contrast the motivations behind the crusades.   Shocking as it may seem, love – not of the modern, sentimental variety, but a medieval, muscular one, characterized by Christian altruism, agape – was the primary driving force behind the crusade.   As foremost crusade historian Jonathan Riley-Smith puts it, the crusaders, moved by love of God and their neighbor, renouncing wives, children, and earthly possessions, and adopting temporary poverty and chastity, were described as going into a voluntary exile.

Despite popular depictions of crusaders as prototypical Europeans imperialists cynically exploiting faith, recent scholarship has proven the opposite, that every crusader “risked his life, social status, and all his possessions when he took the cross.”   Nor was it “those with the least to lose who took up the cross, but rather those with the most.”  Great lords of vast estates – not dispossessed “second sons,” as once believed – parted with their wealth and possessions upon taking the cross.”

“It was a miraculous sight,” wrote one contemporary.   “Everyone bought high and sold low; whatever could be used on the journey was expensive, since they were in a hurry; they sold cheaply whatever items of value they had piled up; what neither prison nor torture could have wrung from them just a short time before they now sold for a few paltry coins.”  But it was worth it all for the “message was clear,” writes Thomas Madden:  “Christ was crucified again in the persecution of his faithful and the defilement of his sanctuaries.”  Both needed rescuing; both offered an opportunity to fulfill one of Christ’s two greatest commandments:  “Love God with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

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GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

The central banks of the UK and Australia have both raised red flags about the rapid expansion of so-called leveraged loans and associated products that have invited comparisons to the toxic debt vehicles that triggered the global financial crisis.

In documents published just days apart, both the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of England have expressed clear concern at the growth in leveraged loans, which have doubled in issuance since the GFC and now stand at over $US1 trillion ($1.4 trillion).

The leveraged loans have invited comparisons to the toxic conditions that helped trigger the GFC.   (The Age, AUSTRALIA, Paul Colgan, 19th October)

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LOS ANGELES

“The Los Angeles regional food bank distributed 300,000 meals a month, but that, says its director, Michael Flood, is only a fraction of what the hungry 1.4 million people in the county need.  The bank resembles the vast warehouse operation of a supermarket chain, with apartment-sized refrigerators and fork-lift trucks processing millions of pounds of groceries.  Every hour, a dozen or so of the 650 soup kitchens in the city arrive to collect sandwiches for the homeless (who cannot cook anything on the streets) or groceries for families.”  (“Amid plenty, want; The Economist, October 27th.)   “…the state with the largest share of people in poverty is California.   As the most populous state, it also has by far the largest number of poor people, 7.4 million.”  (And the Governor, Jerry Brown, is in favor of open borders.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Immerse yourself in the pro-immigration literature of Democratic Party thinkers, and you will notice a curious pattern of argument: High levels of immigration have awakened the racism and bigotry that have fueled the rise of right-wing populism, but it is nevertheless best to press forward with the policies that have ostensibly produced this fearsome reaction.  Why?   Because slowing the pace of immigration would be a callow surrender to bigotry.   But also because, in the fullness of time, a unified coalition of college-educated white liberals, African Americans, and working class immigrants and their descendants will vanquish the aging rump of reactionary whites.”   (“The next populist revolution,” by Reihan Salam, The Atlantic Monthly, September 2018).

 

 

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RETIRE AND ENJOY THE GRANDKIDS

The picture above was taken last Sunday in Indianapolis.  It was the first time all ten of our grandchildren were together.  The picture was posted to FaceBook before I had an opportunity to see it.  I was asked a couple of days later why I wasn’t smiling.  The simple truth is that, moments before, I had been trying to get the boys (aged 2 through 6) to sit still, look at the camera and smile.  I was exhausted and remember collapsing on to the couch!

It’s great being a grandfather.   And Diane loves being a grandmother.

Our advice to others in our age group – don’t work until it’s too late to enjoy the grandchildren.   You will find the time you spend with them rewarding – and they will remember you until they are old and have their own grandchildren.

Retire and enjoy the grandkids!

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ARMISTICE DAY – ONE HUNDRED YEARS ON

World War One came to an end exactly 100 years ago, on November 11th, 1918.   The following article shows that many in Germany want to resurrect the German Empire that collapsed at the end of the Great War.   The article is taken from France24, a French television website.

100 years later: Germany’s far right is trying to resurrect the German Empire  

Berlin (AFP) – 26 Oct 2018

Germany’s far right is trying to rehabilitate the German Empire and its role in World War I, resuming a decades-old debate ahead of the centenary of the armistice.

The magazine Compact, which is close to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), is publishing a special November issue dedicated to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles which held the Reich responsible for the Great War and compelled the country to make colossal reparations.  The title recalls the rhetoric used in the 1920s by those nostalgic for Imperial Germany and the Nazis: “The shame of Versailles:   how the victorious powers enslaved Germany.”  Its online story is headlined “Germany in chains.”

The aim is to reevaluate the German Empire (1871-1918) which for decades has been seen in the collective consciousness as the first of the destructive powers of the 20th century.

‘Bid for world power’

Hamburg University historian Fritz Fischer in the early 1960s confronted the German public with the then controversial thesis that Imperial Germany carried the sole responsibility for the war and the horrors of the Somme, Verdun and Gallipoli.   In his work “Griff nach der Weltmacht” (Bid for World Power), Fischer argued that the Germany of William II, dominated by a racist and imperialist elite, had deliberately instigated World War I in a bid to become a world power.  Fischer argued that Berlin used the crisis sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to go to war with France and Russia to create a German-dominated Europe and Africa — and that this unfulfilled ambition paved the way for the Nazi regime to follow.  This overturned the then entrenched national belief that Germany had fought a defensive war.

 

Joern Leonhard of Freiburg University said Fischer’s views — at heart a “virulent criticism of the German Empire, militarism and imperialism” — are “still broadly shared today by the left.”  By contrast, the AfD wants to “glorify the Empire” as a state that “was modern, had strong industrial development and was very conservative,” said historian Klaus-Peter Sick.  Representatives of the extreme right in their speeches praise the former Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) and the era of “Prussian Palaces.”  Sick said that “the values of the German Reich correspond” to those of the AFD, “discipline and order.”  AfD leader Alexander Gauland went so far as to describe the Hitler regime as a “mere speck of bird [dung]” relative to “1,000 years of glorious German history.”  Sick said that the goal of the far right, at a time when the last eye-witnesses are disappearing, is to ensure “that the Germans are proud of their history and the German nation and stop seeing the spectre of Nazism everywhere.”

Old wounds

Public interest in the origins of the First World War was revived with the 2013 release of the bestseller “The Sleepwalkers:  How Europe went to war in 1914” by Australian historian Christopher Clark of Cambridge University.   Rather than just blame Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, Clark argues that other European powers shared an imperialist paranoia and, without intending to, sleepwalked into the first industrial-scale war.  The success of the book among German readers “betrayed a deep-rooted need to free themselves from blame and guilt,” said the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  The AfD’s Bavaria chapter has promoted Clark’s tome on its website.

While Germany has gone to great lengths to remember and atone for World War II, Nazi atrocities and the Holocaust, remembrance of the First World War is far more low-key.   Even in this centenary year, commemorations remain minimal.  The foreign ministry hosted a conference entitled “Winning peace” in mid-October, but it was not open to the general public.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel will only participate in one ceremony, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, on November 10 in Rethondes, the site of the signing of the Armistice.  “German politicians attach great importance to not opening old wounds,” said Leonhard.

https://www.france24.com/en/20181026-100-years-german-far-right-seeks-rehabilitate-empire

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Merkel urged to make ‘Germany a NUCLEAR SUPERPOWER for Europe’ over US-exit fears 

GERMANY should become a nuclear superpower and spearhead European efforts to acquire weapons, according to leading politicians.   Berlin is under pressure to obtain nuclear weapons for the EU over fears the United States will leave NATO.

Head of Poland’s ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he would “welcome an EU nuclear superpower” shortly before meeting Angela Merkel in Warsaw.

It is thought he may have pressed the German Chancellor on the issue during the visit.

Angela Merkel has been urged to make Germany a nuclear superpower

(“Merkel urged to make ‘Germany a nuclear super-power for Europe’ over US exit fears,” Daily Express, 10/23)

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MORE EUROPEAN NEWS

*   Poland is going through a major battle between Left and Right, with Jewish issues always in the background.   Is it condemned to carry this baggage or can it focus on the new threat?

*   Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán aspires to push Angela Merkel aside and become the new leader of Europe. Is this crazy or does he have a chance?

*   Austria is the first European country outside the Soviet bloc to have a government coalition of a legacy conservative party and what the media calls a far-right party.   Is this a model or an exception?   (Daniel Pipes, promoting an educational tour of the three countries, all threatened by the growing Islamic threat; 10/26)

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UNITED STATES

“The (US) midterm elections are all about the man who’s not on the ballot.” — referring to President Trump.   (USA Today 10/26)

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ISLAM PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS IN NIGERIA

“Nigerian Christianity is under siege from radical Islam. The country’s importance to Africa, and to Christianity as a whole, makes this siege particularly noteworthy.   With a population of nearly 200 million – about 50% Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% animist (traditional pagan religion) – by 2050 Nigeria will become the third most populous country in the world, the United Nations estimates. No wonder Nigeria has been a strategic target for radical Islamists for several decades.

“Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden,” has ramped up attacks on Christians this year. Since 2009 when Boko Haram began its rampage, about 20,000 Nigerians have been hacked with machetes or shot.  Two million have been displaced. Pastors and their families have been specifically targeted for death.

“Pastors in northern and central Nigeria face daunting pressures. Some conduct funerals almost every week for victims, often in mass burials.   They struggle to answer their parishioners’ questions about God’s love and justice.   They hear powerful voices dismiss this as an ethnic clash, but they understand it is a strategic scorched earth war, a jihad against Christianity.”   (“Boko Haram put a bounty on my head,” by Hassan John, an Anglican priest and journalist; Wall Street Journal, 10/26).

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CHRISTIANITY vs ISLAM

In Western Germany, 42% of children under the age of six now come from a migrant background, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, as reported by Die Welt.  (Gatestone, 10/26)

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FACEBOOK AND IRAN DISINFORMATION

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook has uncovered a covert Iranian disinformation campaign which attempted to sow political discord in the U.S. over such hot-button issues as race, immigration, police brutality and President Trump ahead of the November midterm elections.

The social media giant said Friday it detected the activity coming from dozens of pages, accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram late last week.  Facebook removed  82 Facebook pages, groups and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that originated in Iran and targeted people in the U.S. and U.K. over the course of the last year, the company said.”  (USA Today, 10/26)

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CHINA vs AMERICA

“East Asian countries increasingly are joining the US in believing that a triumphant China will “treat us like dogs,” as one Asian diplomat remarked to me recently.   (“How to win a Cold War with Beijing,” by Seth Cropsey, WSJ, 10/26)

“For the past quarter century America’s approach to China has been founded on a belief in convergence.   Political and economic integration would not just make China wealthier, they would also make it more liberal, pluralistic and democratic . . .

“Today convergence is dead.   America has come to see China as a strategic rival – a malevolent actor and a rule-breaker.   The Trump administration accuses it of interfering in America’s culture and politics, of stealing intellectual property and trading unfairly, and of seeking not just leadership in Asia, but also global dominance.  It condemns China’s record on human rights at home and an aggressive expansion abroad.   This month, Mike Pence, the vice-president, warned that China was engaged in a “whole of government” offensive.   His speech sounded ominously like an early bugle-call in a new cold war.

“Do not presume that Mr. Pence and his boss, President Donald Trump, are alone.   Democrats and Republicans are vying to outdo each other in bashing China.   Not since the 1940’s has the mood among American businessfolk, diplomats and the armed forces swung so rapidly behind the idea that the United States faces a new ideological and strategic rival.”   (“China v America,” The Economist, 10/20).

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CHINA CATCHING UP

Right now, the US has more billionaires than China, but China is adding two per week.   (Deutsche Welle News, 10/26)

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Two new churches have recently opened their doors in our neighborhood.

One is called “Impact” and meets in the Lansing Mall at 10.30am every Sunday.   It is hoped that it will save the mall.   Like malls everywhere nowadays, it has a lot of empty stores and a declining number of visitors.

In keeping with the times (and the needs of the mall), the church is encouraging people to come to church, then stay to shop (from 12 noon on).   They can also stay for a movie at the cinema in the mall; or have lunch or a beer at a bar in the facility.

The other church is more interesting.  It’s a one-theme church, focusing on forgiveness.  They have billboards on the way into Lansing encouraging people to be forgiven; and to forgive others.

Most Christians are very aware that they need forgiveness.   Not so many are able to show forgiveness toward others.  Yet, if we can’t show forgiveness, our own eternal life is at stake.

The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of the need for us to receive forgiveness and to show it to others.

“and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,”   (Matthew 6:15)

Jesus Christ also said the following on this subject:   “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (sins)” (Mark 11:26)

These are sobering words, particularly as we get older. We don’t want to miss out on eternal life because we’ve not shown forgiveness to others!

MALARIA, DEATH AND BABIES

    

We lost another friend this week.  She was 95.  A few days later, on the same day as her funeral, our youngest daughter gave birth to our tenth grandchild.   Grayson Gabriel, weighing in at 8 lbs 13 oz.   Because we are both sick, neither of us has seen him yet. (Diane has a head cold, which she could pass on to the baby.  A hospital is the last place you want to go when you’re sick!)

I’ve got malaria back again.

It often re-occurs at this time of the year when the weather is changing.  It’s also a problem when winter is moving into spring. These two periods of time coincide with the biblical holy days, which makes the problem very inconvenient.

Malaria remains the world’s number one killer.

The World Health Organization states:  “Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria.  In 2015, there were roughly 212 million malaria cases and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths.”

It is not contagious. You can only get it when you are bitten by an infected mosquito, always, as it happens, a female.  So be sure to check the sex of the mosquito if you get bitten!

I used to have a “Far Side” cartoon I cut out and inserted into my Bible.  It showed one of Noah’s sons asking his father a question: “Should I kill the two mosquitoes now while we’re ahead?” If only . . .

Malaria and I go back forty years.

My wife, Diane, got it first when we moved to Ghana in 1978.  She spent the Feast of Tabernacles that year in a hotel room in Kumasi, very sick with a mysterious sickness, until a doctor identified it. It was our introduction to Africa’s major illness.  It’s not so long since West Africa was described as “the white man’s grave,” as half of all the whites who went there died within two years from the mosquito borne disease.   Modern drugs make it easier to handle now, but it really is best to avoid getting bitten, an impossibility really.   You can’t spend all day under a mosquito net.

A couple of years later, Diane ended up in a hospital in Accra with the same disease.  And I still vividly remember carrying our four-year-old son into a clinic in the nation’s capital, when he was in a really bad way. Even now, I don’t want to think about it.

On one occasion I was in Cameroon when I came down with malaria. I was in bed in a hotel room for days.   A Cameroonian we knew went to find an anti-malarial drug I requested, but the names in French are different.  It was here, too, that I first heard the comment that “when you get malaria, in the first 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to die; in the second 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to live!” There’s great deal of truth to this!  In that second 24 hours you just WANT to die.

A few years ago, we were in Zimbabwe and spent a few days at Victoria Falls, the most magnificent site in the world.   We took a “sundowner cruise” one evening.  Our tour guide pointed out the hippos (hippopotamus is Greek for “river horse”) and told us that “the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa” and added “except for the mosquito.”

Sometime later, I remember staying with friends in Kariba.  I wanted to go for a walk, but could not as I saw a hippo at the end of their driveway!

Almost thirty years after leaving Africa, I can say that I no longer have a fear of hippos; but I still don’t like mosquitoes!   In Michigan, the bigger problem is West Nile virus.  Mosquitoes are a problem everywhere.

I do have a little annoyance over malaria.   A couple of times I’ve had to go to the hospital for a shot.  But they never believe me when I say I have malaria.  They always want to put me through a series of tests, costing one thousand dollars or more.  Then they come and say, “You have malaria.”  “Well, I told you that when I arrived here four hours ago!  All I wanted was a shot of chloroquine.”

I now have a doctor who prescribes me an anti-malarial drug, which I can use anytime.  It saves me a lot of time (and money) in ER.

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DIVERSITY NOT A STRENGTH

Pat Buchanan has written an excellent article showing how diversity does not work anywhere else in the world, so why do we expect it to work here in the United States?

His article was inspired by Tucker Carlson who asked the same question on his TV show last week.

“Ethnic diversity, after all, tore apart our mighty Cold War rival, splintering the Soviet Union into 15 nations, three of which — Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia — have since split further along ethnic lines.

Russia had to fight two wars to hold onto Chechnya and prevent the diverse peoples of the North Caucasus from splitting off on ethnic grounds, as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had done.

Ethnic diversity then shattered Yugoslavia into seven separate nations.

And even as we proclaim diversity to be our greatest strength, nations everywhere are recoiling from it.” (“The Unpardonable heresy of Tucker Carlson,” PJB, 9/13).

Mr. Buchanan continues:  “The rise of populism and nationalism across Europe is a reaction to the new diversity represented by the Arab, Asian and African millions who have lately come, and the tens of millions desperate to enter.”

He points out that Japan has not encouraged diversity and does not have the ethnic conflicts that are afflicting other western nations.

Israel has passed a law that enshrines Jewish identity into the state itself; while China is taking active measures against Muslims in the country. Burma did the same and has been condemned for it.

Cleary, diversity doesn’t work and we will come to see that more clearly in the years ahead.

When Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His coming,   He replied: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7).   The word “nation” is from the Greek “ethnos” and refers to ethnic groups; a kingdom is a political entity.

Expect more ethnic conflict in the coming years, including western nations.

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A GAY THOMAS?

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE’ INTRODUCES INCLUSIVE GENDER-BALANCED, MULTICULTURAL CHARACTERS IN MAJOR REVAMP OF CHILDREN’S CLASSIC

–headline in Huffington Post 9/1/18

BREXIT TURNS NASTY

British fishermen plan 40-strong flotilla back into French waters as ‘scallop wars’ threaten to erupt again (article by Henry Samuel, Paris Cara McGoogan, Brixham
30 AUGUST 2018 • 7:49PM)

BREXIT TURNS NASTY

Clashes between French and English fishermen took place this week.   The incident was over fishing for scallops just off the north coast of France.

But Brexit was blamed.   It’s as if the old animosities and rivalries are resurfacing with the coming of Brexit.   March 29th is D-Day when Britain departs from the EU.

Mrs. May, the British Prime Minister, was in Africa this week, on a three day tour to prepare for a trade deal with three of Africa’s biggest economies.   South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya were all British territories not so long ago.   Britain is looking to Commonwealth countries as well as the US to replace the European trade when it exits the European Union.

It should be noted that all three countries are very corrupt, a factor that adds considerable challenge to business in the private sector.

I’m currently reading “a novel of Africa,” The Old Order and the New by Wilfred Fowler (1963), who worked for the British Colonial Service in Nigeria, during the period immediately prior to independence in 1960.   He shows quite clearly that from the day a date was chosen for independence, corruption became a major problem in the country.   Politicians saw that, with the British gone, there were great opportunities to make lots of money without actually doing any work!

Germany’s Angela Merkel was also in Africa this week.   In West Africa, to be precise, visiting Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria.   All three countries are a major source of migrants to Germany and other nations of the EU.   Mrs. Merkel wants to try and cut the numbers moving to Europe through increased business and investment.

Note the following from Germanforeignpolicy.com:

“ In opinion polls, nearly half of the Senegalese, and around three-fourths of the Ghanaian and Nigerian respondents, signaled their wish to leave their country, because of dire poverty and a dramatically high youth unemployment rate.”

At least one report on TV news described the two women visiting Africa as a new “Scramble for Africa,” a term often used to describe European colonization and rivalry in Africa towards the end of the nineteenth century.   It’s not just the UK and Germany that are fighting for business in Africa – China is their biggest rival on the continent.   They have to move fast to thwart China taking over the continent, which is Europe’s backyard.

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TRIBALISM MAJOR CAUSE OF CRIME IN UK

A Sky News investigation of crime in London and other major UK cities has revealed that over half of all the violent crime is committed by young, black males.   A lot of it is gang rivalry.

I find this very interesting.

A major problem in Africa is tribalism, which goes back centuries.   People identify with their tribe first and foremost.   This now seems to be the case in the United Kingdom.

The problem hasn’t been solved in Africa.   It won’t be solved in the UK, either, no matter how much money the government spends on social programs.

London and other major cities have seen a dramatic increase in violent crime in recent years.

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POPULIST GAINS PREDICTED IN SWEDISH IDENTITY CRISIS   From the Brussels Briefing, Financial Times, Richard Milne, 8/31.

“Sweden, long known as a bastion of political stability, is gearing up for a step into the unknown.   Elections on September 9 have sparked a fierce debate about the future of the country with Swedes appearing as divided as many Europeans, leading many to fear messy and lengthy talks to form a government . . .

“The current centre-left government is widely thought to be the weakest in decades with the Social Democrats set to post their worst score in more than a century.   But the centre-right opposition seem incapable of capitalising on that. Instead, the main winners next weekend are set to be the populist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats who could come in second place with about 20 per cent of the vote.”

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HUNGARY AND ITALY ATTACK MACRON OVER MIGRANTS    From Brietbart, 8/31

“Conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and populist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini have attacked globalist French President Emmanuel Macron as “the leader of pro-migration parties in Europe today.”

“At a joint press conference in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday, the two pro-sovereignty politicians singled out former Socialist party member Macron as their political enemy when they announced they are forming an anti-mass migration front ahead of European Parliament elections to challenge his vision for the European Union.

“He leads the European force that backs migration, he’s the leader of those parties who back migration to Europe, and on the other side there’s us who want to stop illegal migration,” said Prime Minister Orbán, according to Politico.”

——————————————————————————-ANTI-IMMIGRANT PROTESTS ROCK GERMAN CITY

The German city of Chemnitz has been seeing anti-immigrant protests all week, following the murder of a local man by two men, one from Syria and one from Iraq.

“The demonstrations, which turned violent at times, have shocked the country and are the latest manifestation of the divisions caused by the influx of close to two million asylum seekers since 2015.”  (WSJ, 8/31).

“On Monday, a demonstration registered by a local anti-immigration group drew around 6,000 protesters, some performing the banned Nazi salute.”

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DAY OUT WITH THOMAS

 

I’ve spent all week listening to songs from Thomas and Friends.

For those with no children or grandchildren, Thomas is one of the most successful children’s TV programs ever.   The series is based on books written by an Anglican vicar, the Reverend W. Audrey, who died over twenty years ago.

Last Sunday, I took our 6-year-old grandson for a “Day Out with Thomas” at Crossroads Village in Flint, Michigan.   They have four of these days each year.   This was the last one, though our grandson remains unconvinced and keeps asking me to take him back there.   I keep telling him that Thomas is hibernating through the winter (he has far more sense than people!) and we can go back and see him next summer.   Tell that to your six year old!

During our five-hour visit, Thomas songs were playing constantly. They have stayed in my head since then.

When I looked at Wikipedia’s write-up of the author and books, I was surprised to see that Thomas owes his origin to measles.   When the author’s son, Christopher, was sick with measles, his father told him stories of Thomas and his friends.   This was in 1943.   It wasn’t long before his wife suggested he publish his stories.   The first book came out in 1946.  The first TV series did not begin until 1984.

Thomas isn’t the only train our grandson Aubren has been on.   In six months, I’ve been able to take him on Amtrak to Battle Creek; a small railway in Coldwater, Michigan; the Pere Marquette (Polar Express); and Thomas.   Next year, I will have to top that – perhaps a journey on the Orient Express?

This has helped him greatly in his knowledge of geography – this morning he was playing with his train set and I heard him saying: “Thomas lives in Flint, but he has to go to Chicago!”   He’s also been telling his teachers everything he knows about trains.   He was able to have his picture taken on Sunday with a rather portly Sir Topham Hatt; and with Bob the Builder, who was also appearing.

I take seriously the scriptural admonition to “train up a child”! (Proverbs 22:6)

 

 

 

MEMORIES OF GHANA

Kumasi has been on my mind a great deal this week.

Ghana’s second city was called “the garden city” before independence in 1957.   It’s not very green now, but the city still has the biggest open air-market in west Africa and a number of attractions for visitors.   It remains the home of the Asantahene, the King of the Ashanti, one of the most powerful men in the Republic of Ghana.

Exactly forty years ago, my wife and I were visiting the city once a month. We pastored a church there, as well as one in Accra, the capital, where we lived.   One of the joys of visiting Kumasi was spending time with Charles and Comfort Akowuah.   At the time, Charles was the deacon of the local church. He had a huge chicken farm outside of Kumasi.   The Akowuahs had two children, Loma and Richard (also known as Yaw).   Our children and theirs would play together.

We first arrived in Ghana on May 27, 1978.   At the time, the country was going through some major problems.   The economy had collapsed with an inflation rate of 600%, the military was in power, a “palace coup” took place just a few weeks after we arrived, and a revolution took place a few months later.   It was difficult to buy anything in the stores.   We were in culture shock for a while after arriving.   Charles and Comfort were a great help.

At some point during our first five-year stay in Ghana, Charles was ordained an elder of the church.   We worked very closely in serving the Ghanaian people.   During that five years, the church grew considerably.

We maintained our friendship even after a split in the church in 1995, which affected just about every country in the world.   We had dinner with them on our last visit to Ghana.   Whenever we visited Kumasi, we would visit the restaurant they started over twenty years ago, “Friends Garden,” a popular, open-air meeting place right in the heart of Kumasi.   Conversations would always last late into the night.

Sadly, Charles died of cancer on Sunday.

Charles’ funeral will not take place until 20th October.   This will enable friends and relatives in the Ghanaian diaspora to get back to Kumasi for the traditional funeral rites.  Ghanaians have the best funerals in the world.   If I could be there, I would be, joining in the celebration of Charles’ life.   His son, Richard, will be there from the United States; sadly, their daughter died some years ago, from complications that arose from sickle cell anemia, the end of a life-long struggle.

Thank you, Charles, for some wonderful memories.   Comfort, keep the business going – we hope to pass through Kumasi again someday. Will red-red or fufu be on the menu?

Damfira due, dear friend . . .

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LONDON TERROR – INCIDENT OR ACCIDENT?

The road to Kumasi was always a challenge. It was exactly 168 miles from our home to the center of the city.   The journey could take anything from 4 to 6 hours, depending on traffic and weather, as well as the state of the road, which varied.   There were well-paved stretches of road, but there were also considerable distances of mud, where you could easily get bogged down, especially if it was raining.   The rain was always a tropical storm, a. positive deluge, which could quickly wash the road away.   There was no shelter, just thick rain forest on either side of the highway.

Sometime in 1982, during the rainy season, my American colleague and I, together with our son Kurt, who was only three, were driving back to Accra from Kumasi, after dark.   We had four church members in the back of our Landrover (jeep).   In the middle of a heavy storm, we had a major accident with a bus, full of passengers heading to the capital.   We were all under a deadline, as there was a curfew at 10pm.

Our vehicle was hit by the bus and completely turned around, as it spun into a stone wall, demolishing it, before coming to a halt.   I had grabbed hold of our son (there were no seat belts in those days).   He and I did not have any serious injuries; my colleague, Steve, had a cut on his head and at least one of our passengers was thrown out of the back of the vehicle.

Making things worse was the endless, heavy rain.

A vehicle stopped to help.   The driver, an Ethiopian working for an NGO, gave Kurt and I a ride to our home, about two hours away.   We arrived just before the curfew.   My colleague was not far behind.   Days later, I tried to find the driver of our rescue vehicle.   I had no success. To this day,   I wonder if we were rescued by “an angel unawares.”   (Hebrews 13:2)

In the weeks that followed, we had no vehicle.

It turned out that the bus driver was drunk and had been dancing in the aisle while driving in a heavy storm.   Theoretically, we could have gone to court and received compensation from the bus driver’s company to buy a new vehicle.   But it wasn’t that simple.

Our lawyer, a prominent Ghanaian, said it would be pointless going to court.   The local police were not co-operating and the judge and jury wouldn’t either. One reason was tribal affiliation.   People in Africa identify with their tribe, first and foremost.   As the people on the jury would be of the same tribe as the accused, who came from that area, the man would be found not guilty; so what was the point of going to court?

That’s how it was explained to me.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when watching Sky News.   There was a report about a terrorist attack in London, when a 29-year-old Muslim man from South Sudan deliberately ran his vehicle into a group of cyclists riding past London’s iconic parliament building.   The man was in London to obtain a British passport, having just been granted British citizenship.

Sky News questioned some of the man’s friends, all Muslims.   They were all in agreement, that the incident was just an accident, not a terrorist incident, that Muslims are always blamed for terrorist attacks, when no Muslim would ever do anything like that.

It reminded me of that accident almost 40 years ago.   Again, tribal affiliation makes policing virtually impossible.

Thanks to Acorn, a streaming service similar to Netflix, offering shows from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, we have been able to watch a number of shows from England.   Crime shows, especially, portray the complexities caused by the reality of multicultural Britain, where everyday policing is made virtually impossible for the same reason it was pointless trying to have the drunk driver of the bus prosecuted following our near-death experience.

If the man is still alive, he is probably still driving buses in the pouring rain on difficult roads, dancing in the aisle while consuming lots of beer!

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AUSTRALIA AT 25

Sometime this week Australia’s population reached 25 million. Nobody knows exactly who is number 25 million – it’s more likely to be an immigrant arriving in the country than a new born baby; but 25 million is now the number.   Australia, in recent years, has been taking in 240,000 immigrants a year, compared to an average of 70,000 per annum in the twentieth century.

Prior to Gough Whitlam’s Labor administration (1972-75), Australia had a “white Australia” policy, in an attempt at preserving the country’s European culture.   At the time, most people were descended from the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples of the British Isles. Today, with declining birthrates in western Europe, most immigrants come from Asia and the Middle East, peoples of very different cultural backgrounds.

Eighty years ago, the big fear was of a Japanese invasion.   After World War II, there was great concern about the Chinese.   Neither invasion took place.   But a new generation of Australians is permitting a different invasion of their country.   The end result is likely to be that Australia will become an Asian republic, with all that implies.

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TRAINS AND REPTILES

This has been the last week before our grandchildren in Lansing return to school.   (The grandchildren in Indiana have been back for two weeks.)

I took Aubren on Wednesday for a day in Durand, a small town east of Lansing that has a railroad museum and remains a fairly busy train terminal, almost all freight.   This means you can sit and watch trains while eating lunch.   Aubren loves it and likes to play with the model train in the museum.   We were there for a few hours.   The man in charge at the museum said that they get many autistic children visiting.   For some reason, they love trains. He certainly felt at home there.

On Thursday, it was Leeson’s turn.   I took him to a big pet store to see all the snakes, lizards and spiders.   At first, he wanted me to buy a tarantula. He was inspired by a young lady who was standing next to us, checking out all the creepy-crawlies before buying one.   I saw no evidence that she was married, which is just as well.   I would also caution all single males to check out the girlfriend’s hobbies before contemplating marriage!

But, Leeson wasn’t so interested in tarantulas as he was in snakes. We ended up in the snake section (yes, there is one), where he asked the manager if he could hold a snake.   Yes, he could.   He chose the candy cane corn snake.

He held it for some time, offering me the opportunity to do so.   I declined, saying I needed to keep my hands free to take pictures for his mother.   My excuse worked!

Leeson is only five and asked the store manager, Jason, lots of very intelligent questions about snakes and how to take care of them.   He revealed that he already has a garter snake, which is hiding in the woodpile in our back yard.

In conversation, I told Jason I was watching PBS’ ‘The Outback,” on the previous evening.   Australia has more dangerous creatures than anywhere else on earth (and they still have 240,000 people settle there each year!).

Jason told me he had seen a documentary on Australia, where the American presenter commented on all these dangerous creatures and asked the Australian animal expert if there was anywhere in Australia that was safe.   The Australian responded with: “Yes, the classroom!”   Good point!

Through these two boys I’ve learned a lot about both trains and reptiles, far more than I ever wanted to know, in the case of the latter.

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COLORADO TRAGEDY

A young father in Colorado murdered his pregnant wife and two young daughters on Monday.   We’ve had similar tragedies in Michigan in recent years.

It seems that, today, parents (particularly the father or step-father) are the greatest danger children have to face.

It’s a national tragedy.   Why does this keep on happening?

Apparently, the couple was having financial problems and had had an argument that morning.   TV news reported from outside their home, which was a modern mansion.

Coincidentally, I checked a new book out of the library this week. The title is “Squeezed:   why our families can’t afford America,” by Alissa Quart.   According to a recent newspaper article, 70% of Americans are struggling financially.   They live paycheck to paycheck and are heavily in debt.   It starts with student loans, then a car loan and a mortgage and progresses downhill from there.

But, why does a small family like the one in Colorado, need such a big house?   A PBS documentary over twenty years ago showed that the average family home in the 50’s and 60s was 1,100 square feet, with a garage for one car.   Forty years later, the average new home was 2,000 square feet, with a 2½ car garage, usually used for storage.     Now, it’s even worse.   The title of the documentary was “Affluenza,” highlighting a disease that too many people suffer from.   We need bigger and bigger homes to store more and more things!   And it’s all built on debt.   Where’s the sense in it?

The stress that it all leads to is causing irreparable damage to families, including divorce and violence.

We don’t know yet why the man in Colorado flipped and killed those he, at one time, loved.

There’s never been a greater need than there is now for God to fulfill the last two verses of the Old Testament, a promise to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,” prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”   (Malachi 4:5-6)

I find it unfathomable that a husband and father can do what this young man did in Colorado.   A father’s role includes protecting his wife and children. Instead, today, too often the husband and father represent the greatest threat to the safety and security of everybody in the household.

Of course, we have, in the last few decades destroyed the family in many ways, including totally upending God’s financial system.   In the past, parents had to have children, partly so they could take over the family farm as they got older and could then provide for them in old age. Now we have social security.   It’s taken away the “need” for children, who are now disposable.

How much worse is it going to get?

FAMILY REUNIONS

We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday.   Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago.   Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places.   There was no time to write, or even watch the news.

After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering.   I’m sure they will!

I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins.   Noise, noise, noise!   Can’t boys do anything quietly?   Clearly not.

I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!”  They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.

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THEN AND NOW

When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor:   How one man made history.”

You may have heard of Boris Johnson.   He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.”   On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.”   A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May.   Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.

Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London.   More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.

He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit.   His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union.   This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago.   There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade.   Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels.   Have faith – it will all work out.

I must admit to sympathy with his stance.   Get out quick.   Don’t hesitate.

His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014.   I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters).   The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt.   His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler.   At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia.   But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next.   The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.

A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941.   This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.

“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position.   On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.

“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon.   We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick.   His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)

This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office.   160 years after Yorktown.   160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world.   Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose.  They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the  British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War.  The alliance that was forming  has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.

As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today.   There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history.   There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)

History may repeat itself.

Confidence in Mrs. May is waning.  The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism.   The smaller parties are not credible.   An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.

There’s another analogy.

Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU.   (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!)    American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.

Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.

Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.

There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR.   After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning.   Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage:   two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.”   (pages 235-6)

This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.

At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.

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BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES

Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin.   For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point.   China isn’t on the war path.   Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading.   Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad.   (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)

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FARMERS IN CRISIS

There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent.   It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits.   A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.

Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century.   The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.

The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region.   Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.”   The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families.   This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand.   Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).

Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate.   Many have chosen to leave the country.   Western Australia is one area that is attracting them.   Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.

Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.   These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food.   Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape.   All of these threaten today’s farmers.

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AFRICAN ELECTION

Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end.   The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won.   It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power.   Most people will not be surprised.

Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence.   Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that.   As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised.   Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.

It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.

 

Sorry . . . and thanks!

Diane and I have both had the flu this week.  Hopefully, I will feel up to writing a post next week.

Today was my birthday.  I would like to thank all those who sent greetings and wished me a happy birthday.  I am now officially 67.