Tag Archives: Pope

AUSTRIAN COALITION ANNOUNCED AT KAHLENBERG MOUNTAIN

Austrian Foreign Minister and the leader of the Austrian Peoples Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz attend a news conference at the Kahlenberg mountain in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 16, 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Whereas Germany is having difficulty putting together a coalition government, Austria’s youthful Chancellor, the youngest head of government in the world, has been successful.   Sebastian Kurz, 31, leads the Austrian People’s Party.   His party is now in coalition with the “extreme right” Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache. The latter party is often compared to the Nazis, whose leader, Adolf Hitler, was from Austria.   This is an exaggeration, to say the least.

Both leaders and their supporters, are concerned about the invasion of their country by Muslims and encroaching Islamization. They announced the formation of their government on Kahlenberg Mountain outside of Vienna, the same hill where Islamic Turks were defeated on 9-11 (& 12), 1683, ending the Muslim threat to western Europe.   The new government joins Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia in turning against the tide of immigrants welcomed by Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel.   Interestingly, all five of these countries were parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed after World War One.

One thing is certain – Austria has become the first western nation with a genuine conservative government. 

“The new coalition was agreed on Friday (15th December) by the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ), pledging to stop illegal immigration, cut taxes and resist EU centralization.

It will be led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took over the ÖVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections.  At 31, Kurz will be the world’s youngest leader.

At his side for the investiture by Austria’s (figurehead) president in the Hapsburg dynasty’s imperial palace in Vienna was FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, now vice-chancellor, and FPÖ general secretary Herbert Kickl, the new interior minister.

“Strache has said Islam “has no place in Europe” and last year called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” for her open-door refugee policy.

On Sunday, Strache trumpeted to his 750,000 followers on Facebook that the new government would slash social benefits for asylum-seekers.

“It will no longer happen that migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system will get thousands of euros in welfare!” he said in a post that has gained 9,000 “likes.”

(“European far-right jubilant as Austria’s new government is sworn in.” The Local, December 18th)

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HAPSBURG MEMORIES

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz-Josef.

Coincidentally, at the same time the Austrian government was agreeing a coalition, my wife and I were watching the “Sisi” trilogy on Turner Classic Movies.  These three films, made over 50 years ago in Austria (with English sub-titles), portrayed the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, wife of the Emperor Franz Josef, who reigned from 1848-1916. Elizabeth came from Bavaria.  She was sympathetic to the aspirations of Hungarian nationalists and was influential in the historic agreement that united Austria and Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in 1867).   Her life was rather tragic – her only son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide and she herself was assassinated a few years later, while visiting Geneva.

It was an interesting time in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   A great deal of liberalization took place under Franz Josef as Austrians tried to keep their multiethnic empire together.   Often overlooked is the fact that this major empire gave a home to eleven different nationalities, all united under the Hapsburgs.  Today, each ethnic group has its own sovereign state, each one weaker than the old empire.

“The great Czech historian Frantisek Palacky once said that if the Hapsburg Empire had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent it” (The Emperors, by Gareth Russell, 2014, pages 40-41).   The European Union is no replacement as it is German dominated.

Some of the former Austrian nationalities are again marching together.   Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are all opposed to further Muslim immigration, wanting to protect and preserve Catholic Europe.   These five countries are set to form the Eastern leg of the biblically prophesied revived Roman Empire.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century, there have been a number of attempts to revive it – most recently, in 1922 Mussolini announced a revival of the Roman Empire; in 1957 European leaders signed the Treaty of Rome, forming what is now the European Union, another attempt at uniting Europe.   Perhaps out of the rubble of the EU will come the final European Union, led by Germany.

Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.  And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.  And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:41-44)

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ANNUAL MESSAGES FROM HEADS OF STATE

Every year, the British monarch speaks to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day.  This is a tradition that began with her grandfather, King George V, in 1932.   At the time Britain was a global superpower, ruling over a quarter of the world’s people.   With the introduction of radio in the previous decade, the king could now address all his subjects around the world.

In 1957 the annual radio broadcast began to be televised. By this time, the empire was fundamentally changing.   Indeed, in 1957’s broadcast, the Queen welcomed Ghana and Malaysia into the Commonwealth, as both nations had become independent that year. The 52-nation Commonwealth continues to this day, with the Queen as its Head.

For some years now, the queen’s message has embraced multiculturalism.   The Commonwealth is multicultural in itself, composed of nations that have different religions and a great deal of ethnic diversity.   This year, she took a different approach to her speech. Instead of emphasizing multiculturalism, she praised the citizens of London and Manchester who suffered terrorist attacks last year; and the heroism of Emergency Responders who helped save lives.

Sadly, it is, of course, multiculturalism which has led directly to terrorism, not just in the United Kingdom but in other countries in Europe.

The queen is a deeply religious woman, never more so than at Christmas.   In her speech this year she talked of how Jesus Christ “suffered rejection, hardship and persecution.”   Having experienced all three in recent years, I was encouraged by her words, which prompted a Bible Study from this angle.

Queen Elizabeth is not the only Head of State who gives an annual Christmas speech.   President Steinmeier of Germany addressed the German people on the same day.   The German president, like the British monarch, is a figurehead, playing an important role in unifying the nation at a difficult time.   The German president devoted his speech to reassuring the German people, who still do not have a government over three months after the election.   This is the longest period in the Federal Republic’s history and, for some, brings back memories of the rather unstable Weimar Republic.   Today’s German republic is more resilient and Germany should soon have a new coalition government, made up of two or more parties.

The Pope also gave a Christmas speech.   Whereas the British monarch and the German president were careful not to advocate more immigrants, the pope called upon nations to open their doors wider to receive more refugees.   Ironically, on the same day, ISIS in Somalia called for the assassination of the pope and for attacks on more western cities, like Manchester and London.

And so it goes on.  The West has lost its way and does not know how to respond to radical Islam’s assault upon it.   It won’t, until its religious roots are revived.   Most people in the West still give lip-service to Christianity, but few think deeply about their traditional religions, both Catholic and Protestant.

Acts 4:12 says of Jesus Christ:  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”   Muslims deny Jesus Christ is the Son of God.   Therefore, to equate Islam with Christianity, makes no sense and endangers Christians, who are ill-prepared for the assault that is taking place upon them today.

The British monarch is the titular Head of the Anglican Community. The Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church.

They need to wake up to what is happening and to see clearly the threat to traditional Christianity.

The Pope, in his annual speech, focused on Jerusalem, calling for an independent Palestinian state, the “two state solution” that has been official policy of most countries in recent years.   What the pope is calling for pits him (and the Church) against the US Administration, which is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Pope Francis has used his traditional Christmas Day message to call for “peace for Jerusalem” and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Acknowledging “growing tensions” between them, he urged a “negotiated solution . . . .  that would allow the peaceful co-existence of two states.”   US President Donald Trump recently announced that America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.   The hugely controversial move drew condemnation across the Muslim world.   The Roman Catholic leader gave his Urbi et Orbi speech, which in Latin means “To the city and world,” in Saint Peter’s Square.”    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42477274

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REVISIONIST HISTORY – CHECK THE FACTS!

I’ve taken to looking up just about everything depicted in historical movies and television programs.   As we watch a series, I keep my laptop on my lap and google the “facts” depicted by Hollywood and others who make movies.   The “facts” are rarely factual. Note the following:

1) The new “History” channel series “Knightfall” depicts the Knights Templar around the year 1300.   In the first episode of the series, the Catholic soldiers saved the Jews who were expelled from Paris by King Philip the Fair in 1306.   According to the series, the Jews were saved by the Knights Templar.

This is a total fabrication.   Note the following from the BBC’s Religion section:

“During the first half of the 13th century the attitude of the Church towards Jews hardened from disapproval to loathing. On 22 July, 1306 King Philip IV of France expelled all Jews from his kingdom.”

2) The second season of “The Crown” (Netflix) implies that Prince Philip cheated on his wife in the 1950’s and early 60’s.   There is no evidence for this.  It may be true – it may not be true.  But people watching the otherwise excellent series will no doubt believe everything they see.

3)   “A United Kingdom” was an otherwise good movie, telling the story of Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams.   Sir Seretse led Botswana to independence in 1966.   He met his wife while studying in London.   They were a bi-racial couple in southern Africa, not very common in those days and forbidden in neighboring South Africa, the regional powerhouse.   In 1947 the movie referred to the presidents of four neighboring countries, not one of which had a president at the time, as they were all a part of the British Commonwealth.

4) This is the worst one!   ‘The Viceroy’s House” is a recent movie set in India at the time of independence and partition, in 1947.

Everything in the movie was good until somebody opened a drawer and pulled out a two-year-old highly secretive British government paper advocating partition of the country into India and (Muslim) Pakistan.   So what, you may ask?

Well, this file changed history.   Instead of Earl Mountbatten being responsible for partition, the file “revealed” it was war-time leader Winston Churchill.   As the anti-colonial Guardian reviewer put it – it was the equivalent of somebody in Germany opening a drawer and finding that the Holocaust was first proposed, not by Hitler, but by Mussolini.

Why can’t the entertainment industry ever get it right?   As far more people will watch the movie than read any book on the subject, Churchill will now be blamed for one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.

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One very good series we’ve seen was on the National Geographic Channel.  It was a biography of Albert Einstein.   One of the most brilliant minds in history, he was absolutely hopeless at personal relationships.

I thought you might appreciate the following quote from the great physicist himself:   “The universe is so extraordinary that only God could have created it.  My job is to figure out how He did it.”  (Einstein)

The two greatest scientists of all time were Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.     Many people today see science and religion as opposites — these men did not.  They both believed in God.    Be sure to share that fact with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ENOUGH WITH TEDDY BEARS!

 

Easter Sunday Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan
Easter Sunday Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan

There’s an incredible disconnect in the western world right now.

A few days ago, we witnessed the Brussels bombings that killed 35 and sent hundreds to area hospitals.   Many are maimed for life.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the world witnessed a deliberate bombing of Christian families in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed more than twice as many people as the bombs in Brussels.  Many of the victims were children.   Muslims were killed as well as Christians, but the target was a Christian gathering, with the intent to kill as many as possible, especially children.   Less than 48 hours later, Sky News in England revealed that ISIS has plans to attack Jewish kindergartens in Turkey.   Children have clearly become prime targets for Islamic militants.

Faced with the prospect of more terrorism in the years to come, each attack ratcheting up the intensity and the carnage, an anti-immigrant rally was held in Brussels on Sunday.   The rally was quickly condemned as being made up of “hooligans,” “right wing thugs,” “racists” and “neo-Nazis.”   None of their concerns was addressed.

Older people know that the West as it is now is the direct result of more than five decades of liberal and leftist thinking that has created the multicultural, mixed race, mixed religions, environment we are now living in.  It’s a disaster.  Yet the creators of this mess insist on more of the same.

The BBC World Service (radio) Monday broadcast an interview with Dominic Grieve, a British Conservative politician and Member of the Privy Council, therefore very much a member of the British Establishment.   He was asked a number of questions relating to security in light of the Belgian attacks, in the series “HardTalk.”  His position was predictable, that the vast majority of Muslims, including Syrian immigrants, are appreciative of living in the West and don’t want to cause trouble.

The news then followed with an update on the Pakistani bombing.

It is clear that there is a very anti-Christian element in Islam.  The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised to defend British Christians against all such threats, but this will be difficult to do when over three million Muslims live in the country.

It’s glaringly obvious to a growing number of people that these two religions cannot mix.   But Mr. Grieve implied there is a need for greater efforts to achieve “assimilation.”  Somehow, as with everything else, the West is at fault.

The incident in Brussels inspired an article by Raheem Kassam, which appeared in the Middle East Forum.  It was originally written for Breitbart, a conservative publication.  The title of the article was: “Enough with Teddy Bears and Tears:  It’s time to take our civilization back.”

Mr. Kassam writes:  “Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more.  These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack.  We are our own sickness.”

This is so true – because we don’t know what to do, or rather because we are afraid to take the necessary steps, we hold all-night vigils, pile up the flowers and the teddy bears, sing “We shall overcome” and promise to tell Muslims that we love them, thinking that will change everything.   Even the Pope, for many the leader of the Christian West, prayed for western countries to embrace more refugees on Easter Sunday, rather than clearly condemning the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries.   One day later came news that a Catholic priest was crucified on Good Friday by Islamic State.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a “crusade” to the Holy Land to end the persecution of Christians.  Pope Urban’s reaction to reports of massacres was more understandable than Pope Francis’ reaction a thousand years later.

People in the West today, after seven decades of cultural appeasement, will do anything except fight.

I’m not talking about fighting a war, necessarily.  But there’s no fight to even stand up for our ideals, our history, our values, our culture. Instead, we simply wait for the next attack.

Mr. Kassam’s article also said:  “Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants. Our borders are as porous as our brains. We refuse to realize that there are now literally millions of people amongst us who hate us.  Who hate our way of life, and who will, one day, dominate our public life.”

The teddy bears that are being left at memorials to suicide bombers owe their origin to President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, whose foreign policy was summed up in the expression “speak softly and carry a big stick!”   Diplomacy, in other words, must be backed up by force.   Western leaders today seem only capable of speaking softly, if at all.

Breaking news, as I write, has Hillary Clinton criticizing Donald Trump over his wanting to end Muslim immigration.  She then asked: “What would that mean for a nation founded on religious freedom?” Mrs. Clinton must know that religious freedom was not extended to Muslims until 1965.  Before that, immigration was strictly restricted mostly to people of European descent.  It was the Clinton’s friend, Senator Edward Kennedy, who sponsored the bill that liberalized immigration in 1965.

We are building up to a major clash between the Islamic world and the post-Christian West.   Today’s Western leader, seems content to do little or nothing. It’s up to the Europeans to save western civilization.

At the weekend, the McLaughlin Group on PBS discussed the Brussels attacks and the responses of US presidential candidates, who seem disillusioned with NATO (whose headquarters are in Brussels) and feel the Europeans need to do more to defend themselves.   Germany specifically was mentioned as a wealthy nation that can do more.  Note the following:

“On Wednesday, the German cabinet adopted a four year budget plan that would dramatically increase spending on the military, police, and intelligence services.

“German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democrats, CDU) did not mince words at a press conference Wednesday, declaring,  “The central points of this budget and finance plan are of course the internal and external security of our country.” (World Socialist Web)

Bible prophecy shows that the reaction to the rising threat from radical Islam is going to come from a union of ten nations in Europe, a union only Germany can lead.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)

Revelation 17 is a chapter about the historical revivals of the Roman Empire.  One still lies ahead.  “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (verses 12 & 13).   The “beast” is the supreme European leader of the revived Roman Empire, a European centered union of ten nations with great military power.  This power is destined to fill the vacuum left by the United States.

I don’t normally agree with anything Eleanor Clift says on the McLaughlin Group, but this week I did.  She told the much younger British regular, Tom Rogan, there was a very good reason why we don’t want to rearm Germany.  He was the first one to suggest it.   As the post-World War II generation dies off, few will think of World War II and the dire threat Germany and Japan posed to the world. Instead, they will simply say America can’t do it all, rich countries like Germany and Japan should spend more.  The result is not likely to be a good one.

BORIS JOHNSON MAKES BREXIT MORE LIKELY

Boris Johnson

Donald Trump has a new rival, a fellow New Yorker no less.  Like Mr. Trump, the newcomer is causing just as much turmoil in political circles. He can even rival The Donald with his famous hair.

Boris Johnson (born 19 June, 1964, in New York) is a British politician, popular historian and journalist who has served as Mayor of London since 2008 and as Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015.  Mr. Johnson is a popular figure in British politics.

Mr. Johnson attended the same exclusive private school that Prime Minister David Cameron attended.  Later they both attended Oxford University at the same time.  They are two members of Britain’s elite and have been best friends for decades.  That could change now.

While Mr. Cameron is fighting to keep Britain in the European Union (EU), Boris Johnson on Sunday declared himself opposed.  Mr. Johnson will support the “Leave” campaign.  He is in favor of a Brexit, a British exit from the organization.

As the Wall Street Journal put it:  “Mr. Johnson is the most prominent politician to break with the prime minister ahead of the June 23 referendum.”

It should be noted that if the vote goes against Mr. Cameron, he will likely face a “No Confidence” vote in parliament.  If he loses, Mr. Johnson could be his replacement as prime minister.  Unlike Americans, the Brits don’t have laws precluding those born overseas from holding office.  Besides, Mr. Johnson’s parents were both upper middle class English.   Mr. Johnson recently wrote a biography of fellow Conservative Winston Churchill, a predecessor who also had definite American connections.   (His book, “The Churchill Factor” is well worth reading.)

If this sounds awfully like the 1930’s all over again, there are definite similarities, though nobody is threatening violence this time, not right now anyway.

The pro-European faction in parliament is led by Mr. Cameron.  He returned from Brussels late on Friday, promising the equivalent of Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time.”   The prime minister announced that agreement had been reached with EU leaders that will serve Britain well.  Consequently, Mr. Cameron will recommend Britain remain a member of the European club.

It came as a surprise on Sunday when Boris Johnson came out publicly against continued membership.  Like Mr. Churchill in 1938 he is concerned to protect Britain’s sovereignty in light of European developments toward a trans-national super-state.  This time it’s not Berlin that concerns him so much as Brussels, the capital of the EU.   But Berlin is a factor as the European project is dominated by Germany.

The European Union began with the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which pledges member countries to form “an ever closer union.”   This does not mean a United States of Europe along USA lines. This could never happen, as the dynamics are very different.   What is far more likely to emerge is something akin to the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted for a thousand years until it was broken up by Napoleon in 1806.

Dictionary.com defines the Holy Roman Empire as follows:

“a Germanic empire located chiefly in central Europe that began with the coronation of Charlemagne as Roman emperor in AD 800 . . . and ended with the renunciation of the Roman imperial title by Francis II in 1806, and was regarded theoretically as the continuation of the Western Empire and as the temporal form of a universal dominion whose spiritual head was the pope.”

The EU has been working toward something similar since its inception almost six decades ago.   It’s already the world’s biggest single market and trading power.   The common currency called the euro rivals the US dollar as a global currency.     Politically it’s more united than ever and there is some progress toward a European military.

For Britain, all this is bad news.  Not even the pro-EU politicians want the UK to be a part of a European super-state.  They want to keep their independence or, rather, what’s left of it.  They want to stay out of the euro and do not want to go any further toward an “ever closer union” or join a European military force.  Mr. Cameron received assurances from the other 27 members of the EU that Britain can stay out of all three.  He was also given some relief on the financial costs to British tax-payers having to pay benefits to EU migrants from the East, but only for seven years.

But anti-EU politicians and members of the public are still insecure about the future.

It’s not surprising really when you consider Britain’s history.  For centuries Britain looked beyond the seas to its colonies and, later, the Commonwealth and the United States, remaining outside of Europe, only getting involved when threatened by a Napoleon, the Kaiser or Hitler.

In 1962, former US Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, observed that: “Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role.” In the same year, US President John Kennedy expressed his support for Britain joining what was then called the Common Market.  Canada’s Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, was very much against Britain joining, expressing his concern that it could mean the end of the Commonwealth of which Canada was a founding member.

America wanted Britain “in” so as to have a reliable pro-American voice in the European club.  The US also wanted free trade to boost American exports to Europe.

If the United Kingdom votes to leave the EU, there will likely be far greater repercussions than can presently be seen.  These will not just be economic.  44% of Britain’s exports go to other EU nations – a “no” vote could jeopardize these exports as tariffs exist on imports from non-member countries.

Other repercussions could include the following:

  1. The EU could be less co-operative with the USA.
  1. A British exit from the EU could encourage a Scottish exit from the UK, as it seems most Scots want to stay in the EU.
  1. Ireland would be negatively affected, with 40% of its imports coming from the UK and 17% of its exports going to Britain.
  1. Germany will become more dominant.  Only Britain and France are big enough right now to restrain the central European giant.  Take away Britain and it’s down to France.   France’s priority right now is Islamic terrorism. Germany will be able to go full steam ahead toward its dream of a revived European empire, already referred to by some as the Fourth Reich.  The Holy Roman Empire was the first reich (or empire), that lasted a thousand years; the Kaisers were the second reich; Hitler promised his Third Reich would last a thousand years like the first one, but it only lasted twelve.
  1. There will be a lot of bad feeling if Britain leaves.  Other EU members will not be inclined to bend over backwards to help the Brits through a difficult transition period.   Concessions on trade will be unlikely.  It could also end shared security arrangements at a time when there are increased security risks with Islamic militancy.
  1. International companies operating in Britain could move to other countries.  Many companies have based themselves in the UK to gain advantage in selling goods to other EU countries.  Faced with high tariffs to keep out non-EU goods, they are likely to move elsewhere, leaving greater unemployment in their wake.
  1. There is also a possibility that some other EU members may follow Britain out the door.   Whereas countries at the center of Europe have a long history of strong government from the center, those on the northern periphery have not.  Although some may sympathize with the British position, they may decide it’s not economically feasible to leave as trade with Germany and other nations is too great.

Some of the southern members may also opt to leave so that they can print their own money and boost employment.

Bible prophecy shows that a revived European super-state will include ten nations.

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (Revelation 17:12-13)

However, this does not rule out the possibility of other countries being closely tied to the ten.  This would be very similar to the Holy Roman Empire where some territories were ruled directly from the center, but others were more loosely attached.

Additionally, dozens of countries around the world are tied to the EU through the Lomé Convention, named after the capital of Togo.  The agreement came into being a couple of years after Britain joined the EU.  It tied British former colonies to the European trading system, along with French, Belgian and Portuguese.  The EU is by far the leading world trading power.

It’s surprising then that there’s little interest in the outcome of the British referendum in the American media.  Any mention of the European Union solicits a big yawn.  But the reality is that Boris Johnson may out-Trump Donald Trump in the upheaval he may cause across the pond!

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TRAGEDY IN KALAMAZOO

Kalamazoo is a big city that’s only an hour’s drive from where we live.  Saturday night it fell victim to the latest American mass shooting, when a 45-year-old Uber driver shot dead six people and seriously injured two others.  In between killing people, he picked up and drove passengers to their destinations.

The lack of motive is disturbing.  So is the following paragraph from the BBC’s website:

“One of the seriously injured, a 14-year-old girl, was believed to have been dead for more than an hour when she squeezed her mother’s hand as doctors were preparing to harvest her organs, police officer Dale Hinz told Michigan Live.”

 

 

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE THIS WEEK

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday. (Reuters)

The week began with the 41st G7 summit, held this year in the Bavarian town of Krun.

The former G8 is now down to 7 since Vladimir Putin started misbehaving himself and invaded Ukraine.   He never really belonged anyway.  The group is made up of the seven biggest industrial powers in the world – Russia was never the eighth.   Even the Belgian economy is bigger than Russia’s.   At the same time, Russia under Putin can hardly be described as a model democracy.

The leaders of the seven seem to have had the usual amicable two-day session, during which they discussed Russia and Ukraine, global warming and ISIS.   President Obama was more than candid when he said that the US does not have a “complete strategy” when it comes to dealing with the terror group.  One year after ISIS captured the city of Mosul, the Administration still doesn’t know what it’s doing!   It’s a good thing the president wasn’t in power at the time of Pearl Harbor – Hitler and Tojo would have won!

Fortunately, there are leaders out there who do know what they are doing and who seem to have a clear strategy.  Unfortunately, they live in Moscow and the Vatican.

Today, the leader of Russia, no doubt sore at being barred from the summit and all that Bavarian beer, met with the Pope in the Eternal City.   This was the second time the two men have met, the first since the Russian annexation of Crimea.   Note what Russia Today had to say:

“The two men champion similar conservative values in a rapidly changing world, as well as concerns for emerging threats to Christianity.  During their last meeting in 2013, Putin and the Pope discussed the danger Christians face in the Middle East at the hands of radical Islamists.

“The meeting is expected to touch upon Ukraine and the civil war in the east of the country.  Pope Francis has been rejecting calls from the Ukrainian Catholic Church to condemn Russia over allegations that it’s fueling aggression, and instead called on all parties involved to cease hostilities.”

Today’s meeting was a test of the pope’s diplomatic skills.  Fresh from a visit to Cuba, which was appreciated in both Washington and Havana, the pope was instrumental in breaking the ice between the US and the communist country.  Can he help break the logjam over Ukraine?

Perhaps more important to the pope is the state of Christians in the Middle East.  Extremists throughout the region are killing Christians at an alarming rate and in a most alarming manner.  Russia’s president has said that Russia will protect them.  The pope has called for world leaders to intervene and use force against those persecuting Christians.  The US president is on record as saying that the US is a “post-Christian” country – he will not be seen to favor Christians over Muslims, reminding people a few weeks ago that Christians did some terrible things to Muslims during the Crusades. At the same time, Christianity is a thing of the past to most western Europeans.

So, what next in Europe and particularly Germany, Rome and Moscow?

Bible prophecy shows that prior to Christ’s Second Coming, there will be a revival of the Roman Empire, in which Rome and Germany will play major roles.   You can read about the revived Roman Empire in Revelation, chapter 17.   History students will know that this union is not improbable.   In 1922, Mussolini proclaimed a revival of the Roman Empire.   After his plans failed, six European nations came together to sign the Treaty of Rome in 1957, pledging to form “an ever closer union”, in effect a nicer Roman Empire, not built by force.

For this revival of the Roman Empire to come into its final form, a German led Europe and America are set to go their separate ways. Clearly, there are already differences between Washington and Berlin, the only European capital that counts.   Germany is witnessing increasing anti-Americanism, which is likely to get worse with the publication of “Schindler’s List.”   Gerhard Schindler is the president of Germany’s BND, the equivalent of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).   He has in his possession a list of people in Germany that his BND has been spying on at the behest of the NSA.

“This list has become a potential time bomb both for Germany’s ruling coalition and for the transatlantic relationship.  It refers to the documentation of millions of “selectors”— search terms for phone numbers, e-mail addresses and so on — that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) has over the years fed into the computers of its German equivalent, the BND.   The Germans monitored these and passed the intelligence back to America.  Under a 2002 deal, the selectors may not point to German citizens, European firms or European Union governments.

“But for years the BND failed to check the selectors, according to parliamentary testimony by Gerhard Schindler, its president. It began doing so properly only after revelations of American mass surveillance by Edward Snowden in 2013.  The BND then rejected thousands of search terms as impermissible, apparently because they aimed at European firms and governments, including France’s. A big question is just how many problematic selectors had got through.   Mr. Schindler says he was informed of the situation only in March.  How much Chancellor Angela Merkel knew is unclear.” (“Germans are angry not only with America’s spies but also with their own,” The Economist, June 6th.)

There is likely to be considerable fallout when the list is revealed.   In turn, this could affect transatlantic relations.

Add to this a growing disillusionment with a do-nothing Washington that is no longer committed to Europe and seems averse to doing anything significant in the Middle East.   This leaves a vacuum in the Western world.   Europe is not ready to fill the vacuum yet, but if the West is to be saved, it must do so.   And do so soon.

Rome will also play a role here.   A revived Roman Empire is not possible without the papacy.   Note the following comment in Time Magazine one day before the pope met with President Putin.

“The Bishop of Rome may not represent the United States or Germany, but he is increasingly a superpower in his own right, and the Wednesday meeting is a diplomatic test of how Francis will use his influence.”

(“Vladimir Putin Tests the Limits of Pope Francis’ Powers,” Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine, June 9th.)

Little attention is given to Berlin, Rome, or Moscow on American television news programs, but developments in these three cities could affect America’s future and very soon.

POPE CONDEMNS GENOCIDE

Crucified  Christian girls, Turkish Armenian Christian genocide, 1915
Crucified Christian girls, Turkish Armenian Christian genocide, 1915

In a few days, it will be exactly one hundred years since the Ottoman Turks started a genocidal program to eliminate their own Armenian citizens.   An estimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians died in a persecution that continued until well after World War One.   It wasn’t just Armenians.   Assyrians and Greeks, both Christian communities, also perished.

Yesterday, in a mass attended by the Armenian president in Rome, Pope Francis referred to the Turkish action as “genocide”.   Naturally, the Turks see things differently, claiming a smaller number died and that they were simply casualties of war.   There was no deliberate policy to wipe out Christians.   The Turkish Ambassador to the Holy See was quickly recalled yesterday following the Pope’s comment.

Popes have been around a long time, almost 2,000 years in fact.   And the Vatican has a long memory.

One thousand years ago, it was Turks killing Christians that provoked Pope Urban II to call western Europe to arms, launching the Crusades that led to two centuries of conflict between Muslims and Christians.

In 1453, the Turkish conquest of Constantinople ended the Roman Empire in the East.   Persecution and discrimination against Christians followed in Asia Minor.  During a tour of Turkey three years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when the Turks took over.   I never got a straight answer.  My own research concludes that many fled the country, others were slaughtered, and many more were sold into slavery.  Only a small number were allowed to continue to practice their faith.

In 1529 and again in 1683 it was Catholic troops that saved Vienna from conquest by the Ottoman Turks.

Although relations have been much better in recent decades, it was a Turk who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II on 13th May, 1981.

And now the Vatican risks tension between Rome and Ankara by bringing up the Armenian slaughter of a century ago.

The reason for this is probably more due to recent and ongoing events in the wider Middle East.   All over what used to be the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, Christians are being murdered by Islamic extremists.   In Syria, Iraq and Libya the slaughter of Christians continues unabated.

Furthermore, Turkey has not condemned this.

Western leaders have chosen not to address this humanitarian crisis.

Could a pope once again call the West to action against Islamic atrocities?

JESUS, JAMES AND JOSEPH: Book Review

Prepare to change your thinking!

Many Christians understand that the Church of Rome was very different from the apostolic church.   The early church was headquartered at Jerusalem, described by ancient sources as the most beautiful city in the world, far surpassing Rome.   The most beautiful building in that city was the Temple.   This was all to change when the Jewish Revolt led to the Roman destruction of the city and temple in 70 A.D.

Popular history has it that the Apostle Peter was the first pope and that he lived in Rome.   The Bible shows this to be untrue. Even the title of pope is unbiblical.

Most people are aware that the Roman Emperor Constantine played a pivotal role in giving the Roman church the pre-eminence in Christendom in 325 A.D.   However, this did not end the controversies and divisions, which continued. In the late fourth century, Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, considered at the time the greatest scholar in the “Christian” world to produce an authoritative Latin translation of the scriptures, which would put an end to the various Latin manuscripts that were circulating.   Jerome’s Latin Vulgate was finished in 405 A.D.

Note the following:

“The corrupt Roman church first re-arranged the entire NT to emphasize a gentile or pagan message. In his Latin Vulgate Jerome removed the epistle of James the Just from its prominent position after the book of Acts – where it appears in nearly all the Greek manuscripts. He placed it near the end of the NT, after the epistles of Paul.

“This move was designed to belittle James. It also gave higher ratings to the epistle to the Romans, and other scriptures written to the gentiles. The first book after Acts would now be Romans.   For the ignorant, Rome became the focus, not Jerusalem. Gentile myth substituted the Davidic, Jerusalem and Temple tradition.   James was out.”

“If Rome upheld James as the bishop of bishops, Jerusalem would retain religious power above Constantinople or Rome. They would lose money and prestige.   Hence the Peter fable. The Temple was expunged.”

The three paragraphs I have quoted can be found in the book “Jesus, James, Joseph and the past and future Temple” (pages 320 & 659).   The book is available through Amazon and a number of other, sometimes cheaper, online retailers.   Shop around.

The book is written and compiled by the Nazarene Project (editor David Price) and published by Bron Communications.   The project derives its name from the early disciples, who were known as the Nazarenes, before they were first called Christians in Acts 11:26. The book covers a very wide spectrum of early church history, showing how the early church was hijacked and transformed into what today is the biggest church on the planet.

Jerome was just one figure who was instrumental in this transformation.   Even down to the smallest detail.   Jerome, for example, “invented a complex and flawed theory that James and the other children were not children of Mary but rather the nephews of Jesus, a theory that had no historical or patristic basis” (p. 321).   Yet this seemingly minor change led to profound doctrinal changes, including the much later doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, under Pope Pius IX, in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

The central focus of the book is, as the title suggests, the roles that Jesus, James and Joseph held in the Temple at Jerusalem.   All three played important roles in the most important building on earth.   The Temple was described by the secular Roman historian Tacitus as “the most beautiful structure ever built by the hands of man.”

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church was headquartered at Jerusalem, under the leadership of James, Christ’s brother.   Early historical documents show that James had a throne in the Temple.   His epistle shows that he was both a servant of his brother, Jesus, and leader of the twelve tribes scattered abroad.   A contemporary record says that James “prayed inside the Holy Place every day for the repentance of Israel,” and that “Peter and the others called him Lord.”   Clearly, he was a powerful and influential man, at a time when most people believe that Peter was pope.   But Jerusalem, not Rome, was then the focus of peoples’ loyalties.

At almost 700 pages of text, the book is a really good read and will be a useful tool to your daily Bible Study.   It will also inspire many sermons for those of you who have the opportunity to speak.

 

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER FREEZE

wintry-weather-michigan

It was a week before we got our power back.

The house was so cold we decided to check into a nearby hotel on the Sunday, about twelve hours after the power cut that was brought on by a severe ice storm.

When we arrived at the hotel at 1.30 in the afternoon, we were told that they had also lost power just ten minutes earlier.

At about this time, we got a phone call from friends who were away for a few days.  They offered us their home.  We gladly accepted.

We came home each morning to see if the power was back on but it was to be a whole week before it was back to normal.

When our friends returned, we moved into a hotel; the next day, we had to move to another hotel.

This was happening to tens of thousands of people, moving from place to place like refugees.  Most hotels were without power; those that had it often had very few vacancies, so it was one night here and two nights there, driving around with a car full of supplies.  Complicating things was that Christmas Day was in the middle of the week and almost everywhere was closed.  We found a Chinese restaurant offering lunch and we decided to eat there, if only for warmth!

We were in Hawaii in 2006 during an earthquake.  Power was restored within hours.   The mid-Michigan disaster of December 22nd was far greater.  People are still very angry that their power was off for a week and the head of the local electricity company is under pressure to resign for leaving the state over the holiday to be with family.

The great lesson I came away with from the experience is how fragile our society is today, dependent as it is on so many modern conveniences that require electricity.  It’s also clear how quickly law and order can unravel – people were breaking into empty homes and even stealing generators from homes that were still inhabited.

Above all, a constant worry, was the cold.  Surviving the extreme cold weather became the sole priority.  We had two grandchildren with us, both under two; six of us in total seeking shelter.

What a nightmare!

And now, two weeks later, we are going through the worst freeze in decades!

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Just a few days ago, Fallujah fell to al-Qaeda, undermining coalition efforts to eradicate al-Qaeda from Iraq during years of intense conflict.

At least, that’s what they are saying.

The truth is that al-Qaeda was not in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was president.  This isn’t to say Saddam was a good man.  He wasn’t.  But he wasn’t a religious nut and kept the extremists at bay.

Following the US-led invasion, elections changed the balance of power in Iraq.  Under Saddam, Sunnis dominated the country.   After US sponsored elections, the majority Shia were in charge, heavily influenced by Shi’ite Iran.  To the west, the Alawites remain the dominant force in Syria, a sect of Shia Islam.   Further west, Shia Hezbollah is a major force in Lebanon.  This arc of Shia Islam is increasingly in conflict with Sunni Islam.

An expert on the region told the BBC a couple of nights ago that tension between Shia and Sunni is greater in Iraq than anywhere else.

Why is the West involved in this conflict?  It’s so incomprehensible to the average western mind that few attempts are made in the media to explain it.

Martha Raddatz tried to answer that question on ABC on Sunday morning, pointing out that women have made great strides in Afghanistan and other countries since Western intervention.  But, is it our role to advance the cause of women in Islamic countries?   At the expense, one might add, of western lives, mostly men.

The answer surely is no.

Islam has been mistreating women for centuries.  It’s deeply ingrained in their culture.  Can we change it?  I doubt it very much.

I’m reminded of a story a friend of mine told me.  At the time, he worked to help refugees to settle in mid-Michigan.  Whenever one of the refugees caused a problem, the police would call him to come and help resolve the problem.

On one occasion, at about 2 in the morning, he was asked to come to an apartment bloc where a man had been hitting his wife, causing her to scream and disturb the neighbors.

He explained to the man, a Somali Moslem, that in America you cannot beat your wife.

The man was totally bewildered and asked the question:  “If you cannot beat your wife, why would you get married?”

Some things will never change.

Islam is one of them.

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Talking of the Middle East, the Pope is to visit the Holy Land in May.

He may be going to return the book Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to him last month on a visit to the Vatican.

It was written by his late father. Benzion Netanyahu, and is the definitive study of “The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th century Spain.”   In 1492 the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, decreed that all their subjects must be Catholic.  They also invited the Inquisition to come to Spain to enforce the decree.  Many Jews left the country, many converted to Catholicism, and many more were killed.  This was a time when the church persecuted anybody who thought or believed differently.  It was a time of great intolerance.

The book does not show the church in a good light.  So why did the Israeli prime minister present a copy to the pope?

He clearly does not want this history forgotten.  At a time when the Catholic Church is once again rising to greater prominence, it is good for people to be reminded that its history has often not been glorious.

It’s also a good lesson for the pope, especially one from the New World who may have little awareness of European history.

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Europe’s religious divide is a factor in the Ukraine right now.

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been demonstrating against their president who has refused to sign a treaty with the European Union and has turned instead to Russia, strengthening ties with the country that ruled over them for more than two centuries.

The country is divided between those, mostly in the East, who favor closer ties with Moscow and those in the west who favor a stronger European connection.  The pro-Moscow people are more likely to be Russian Orthodox while the pro-western are more likely to be Catholic.

Germany and Russia fought over Ukraine in both world wars.  No fighting is taking place now but, in a sense, the same struggle continues.  This time it’s economic – between the German-led European Union and Moscow.

Senator John McCain joined in one demonstration on a recent Sunday and told American television viewers that the Ukrainians want to be a part of the West.  This is not totally accurate.  They want to be a part of the European Union, partly to secure parliamentary government and basic freedoms; Moscow doesn’t have a reputation for either.

Only time will tell who will triumph in this struggle.

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The struggle in Ukraine illustrates the continuing ideal of the European idea.  If the EU is falling apart, then why would anybody want to join it?

Latvia last week became the 18th member of the eurozone, the countries of the EU that use the common currency.   This is another example of an ongoing commitment to Europe.

The EU may not survive as is, but too many Europeans have felt the benefits of European unity to reject the concept completely.

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The temperature is now -3 degrees Fahrenheit.