Tag Archives: Czar

REFLECTIONS

gift-return

USA Today disclosed last week that the average family home in the US has 71 toys.   71?!?    I can only remember having two when I was a child — a farm set and a train set.   Admittedly, both had multiple pieces.   But 71?

Actually, I can believe it.   I always seem to be stepping on toys when I walk through our home.   Even at our daughter’s in Indianapolis, the living room floor is the favored spot for dumping toys.  My wife always said that toys were things to drag from the bedroom and dump on the living room carpet, and then the kids go out and play with a stick.

It wasn’t like this in Africa.   Most children there had no toys, unless a family member had made one from a used car tire or an old cardboard box.

When we first moved to the US, I was fascinated by how different American children are from African children; not for the better, I might add.  Too many American kids say bad things back to their parents and are more materialistic when it comes to getting things (toys and candy, mostly).

Part of the problem is television programs and commercials.   Children put incredible pressure on parents to buy them everything they’ve seen on TV and advertisers know this.   Credit cards enable parents to buy – few in Africa have CC’s.   One other factor I think all parents should think about – how many buy toys out of guilt?  With very little time to devote to children, parents over-compensate by buying lots of things.

I think their offspring would prefer time with Mom and Dad.  We didn’t have lots of things growing up, but our mother was always there, thankfully.

One other thing we should be concerned about is not to encourage materialism or greed in our children and grandchildren.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ (Matthew 6:19-21).

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It’s no surprise that Jimmy Fallon and Meryl Streep criticized President-elect Donald Trump Sunday night at the Golden Globes.

Fallon even commented that the Globes are now the only place in America where the “popular vote” counts.  Really?   I wasn’t asked to vote on the best movies of 2016.

The theater was full, as usual.  Many of those seated threatened to leave the United States if Trump won the election.   Canada seemed the preferred destination.  But they were there at the Globes.  Presumably they flew back for the evening!!!   Or, perhaps, upon reflection, when they saw how much they would have to pay in taxes in Canada, they decided to stay in the United States.

These people are unreal.  (Well, they are actors, after all.)  They rake in the millions or hundreds of millions and spend more money on face-lifts and breast enhancements than Donald Trump will ever spend on the military.  Their gowns alone cost more than the GNP’s of many countries.

Meryl Streep is a good actress.  So are some of the others in the audience.  They should stick to acting and stay out of politics, before millions of their fans turn away from them in disgust.

There was also an element of hypocrisy when Meryl Streep, commenting on Donald Trump, warned that violence begets more violence.  Hollywood has arguably done more to promote violence than Donald Trump or any other president could possibly do.

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alixs-kids

Diane and I have just been down to Indianapolis to see our eldest daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their four children.  It was an enjoyable and relaxing few days.

I was able to take our two granddaughters, Alyssa and Elena, to tour President Benjamin Harrison’s home in downtown Indianapolis.   It was well worth the time and money to tour the historic house.   I am pleased to say that both girls asked intelligent and perceptive questions.

President Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States, in office from 1889 to 1893.   He replaced Grover Cleveland and was succeeded by the same man, a Democrat.   Harrison was a prime example of Churchill’s later dictum:  “If you’re not a socialist (liberal) at 20 you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head.”  He started out as a Whig but later became a Republican.

Historians do not rate his presidency very highly, but it’s interesting to note that he was facing the same issues that confront President-elect Trump today.   He raised tariffs on imports to help reduce the federal deficit and built up the navy which had been neglected since the Civil War.  (Interestingly, the day we toured the home, a website revealed that, for the first time in decades, there were no US naval vessels on patrol anywhere in the world.)

President Harrison is remembered as the grandson of President William Henry Harrison, who was president for exactly one month. He gave a very long speech at his Inaugural in 1841, caught a cold which developed into pneumonia, and died.   The two Harrisons are the only grandfather-grandson presidents in US history.

The second president also saw six states enter the Union during his four-year term, a record number under any chief executive.

It was sobering to note that the three-story home had no indoor plumbing!

It was an interesting visit and I recommend it if you are ever in Indianapolis.

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On a different day I took the twins to McDonald’s for an ice cream sundae, followed by a visit to Meijer, a huge grocery store that also sells toys.  (The twins would probably describe it as a toy store that also sells groceries!)

When ordering ice cream for them, I asked for a hot tea for myself.   The man taking the order responded with “Excuse me?”  I repeated my request.  He said he had never heard of it!  (seriously!)   So I asked for the manager and, again, repeated my request for a hot tea.   He had at least heard of it.   I added a request that the bag be put in the cup before the water as it tastes so much better that way.   My order came five minutes later – a styrofoam cup with luke-warm water and a separate tea bag!

I’m pleased to say that Tim Horton’s is moving south – they have now reached Ft Wayne.  I think I will stay away from Indianapolis until they move the extra 120 miles!  At least the Canadian franchise makes decent tea – just stay away from the donuts.

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There was an interesting paragraph Monday morning from an Israeli paper:

“Religious Jews are more excited about Messiah’s return than Christians are,” Markell told WND.   “Muslims are more anticipatory about their Mahdi’s return than are Christians about Jesus’s return. This shows the deplorable state of the church today that is ‘majoring in minors.’   They have their finance seminars and marriage conferences but have shoved the idea of the Lord’s imminent return not just to the back burner, perhaps to the back yard.”   (WND)

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AIRPORT ATTACK

The latest terrorist attack at Fort Lauderdale’s airport is disturbing.  It highlights the danger that ISIS is spreading beyond Islam to non-Muslims.  The perpetrator of Friday’s attack was an American born Hispanic.   If ISIS spreads its influence to hispanics and other minorities in America, attacks like this will only become more common.

A Palestinian drove a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four and injuring dozens.   These truck (or lorry) attacks in France, Germany and Israel are also spreading.

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NEW YEAR, 1917

We were with Alix and Mike over the New Year’s weekend.   Mike came across a quote, supposedly from Russia’s last Czar, Nicholas II, who wrote on the last day of 1916, in the middle of World War I:   “1916 was cursed. The new year will surely be better.”   Those who know Russian history will be aware that the Czar abdicated in February of 1917, the country was plunged into civil war before the year ended and the royal family were all slaughtered.   The “quote” was tweeted by Gary Kasparov, the famous Russian chess player who now lives in the United States.   Whether it’s true or not, it should make us think!

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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Zambia-Scott

The Middle East remains the focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem as its epicenter.

And Jerusalem is very much in the news just now.

Following an assassination attempt on a right-wing Jewish leader, Israeli soldiers shot and killed his assassin. The Israeli government then thought it prudent to close the Temple Mount to all three religions. This was temporary but a Palestinian leader declared the decision “an act of war.”

The Temple Mount reopened in time for Friday prayers but the city remains tense and the prospect of a renewed intifada remains high. At the close of prayers moments ago, Palestinian youth were starting to riot.

Meanwhile, relations between Israel and the US are at an all-time low, with Obama Administration officials using bad language to describe the Israeli leader, Benyamin Nethanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister this week authorized the building of over 1,000 new homes in East Jerusalem, which the US protested. Natanyahu, a conservative, had little choice if he hopes to win the election scheduled for next year.

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News out of Africa this week has been very interesting, even without Ebola, which continues to rage in West Africa. The BBC today described the region this morning as one of the worst governed parts of the world. We used to live in Ghana, so I can echo those sentiments. Whereas Ghana itself has greatly improved, neighboring Burkina Faso is quite different.

President Blaise Compaoere was finally forced to resign this morning, after 27 years in office. He came to power in a violent coup in October 1987, overthrowing the previous president ,Thomas Sankara. I have been continually reminded of Sankara’s assassination throughout the years as a traffic circle in Ghana’s capital, Accra, is named after him. Ghana’s leader, Jerry John Rawlings and Sankara were close friends, both left-wing revolutionaries in the mould of Che Guevara.

Their devotion to revolutionary fervor did not, however, deter them from personal gain while in office. Compaoere was just the same.

The capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, has witnessed considerable violence for some days now, following the president’s request to the national assembly to approve a change to the constitution, which would allow him another 15 years in office. Tired of all the corruption, the people rose up and said no. Sadly, though, whoever takes over is likely to be just as corrupt. Coups and corruption are the order of the day throughout the continent of Africa. With each change of president, there is short-lived hope of real change,  hope that is soon dashed with the first signs of corruption.

Events in Burkina Faso bring to mind Christ’s profound observation on gentile government:   “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.” (Matt 20:25).   Abuse of power in most African countries is an every day occurrence.

A more orderly transition is taking place in Zambia, another African country considerably to the south and east of Burkina Faso. The 77-year-old President of Zambia, Michael Sata, died in London earlier this week while undergoing medical treatment. Under the constitution, his Vice President is taking over and must preside over an election within 90 days. He himself cannot stand for election as his parents were not born in Zambia, a constitutional requirement when standing for the office of president. What is remarkable is that the interim president is Guy Scott, a white man born in Livingstone in what was then Northern Rhodesia. His ancestry is Scottish. This is the first white man to rule an African nation since F.W. deKlerk, President of South Africa in the last years of apartheid.

Unlike Burkina Faso, Zambia has been quite stable since independence, fifty years ago. Under its post independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda, it pursued a socialist course that set it back economically. But, in recent years, it has been catching up.

Zambia and Ghana are two countries that give some hope to Africa. Sadly, Burkina Faso is another country that reminds us of Africa’s tumultuous post-colonial history.

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I’ve often wondered if Vladimir Putin, Russia’s eternal leader, might one day have himself proclaimed Czar.  His determined swagger through the Czar’s palaces conjure up images of a bygone era.

A friend has just sent me a couple of articles showing that support for a monarchical form of government is growing in both Russia and Rumania.

According to the 24/7 news channel, “Russia Today”, quoting the All Russia Center for Public Opinion, almost a third of Russians support restoration of the monarchy. Only 6% feel that a candidate must be from the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years.   The vast majority feel the Czar must be Russian Orthodox. 13% feel a prominent Russian could fill the role (Putin?), but a further question and answer showed that 80% feel that no contemporary Russian can fit the role. So, that leaves Putin out. The results were announced by the head of the organization, Valery Fedorov, at a Moscow conference dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Russian royal house.

In Rumania, the current Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, is running for the figurehead position of president. If he succeeds, he is promising to hold a referendum on restoration of the monarchy, which was abolished by the communists in 1947. King Michael is still alive, aged 93, and is well thought of in the country.

As disillusionment with the present systems of government grows, nostalgia for an older, more stable and seemingly better time will increase. But it remains the case that only a dramatic upheaval is likely to result in the restoration of ancient crowns.