Tag Archives: Ten Commandments

REMEMBER THE SABBATH

Keep calm sabbath

A few Sundays ago, I had to go to Kroger, a grocery store that’s about two miles from our house.   I chose to go at lunchtime.

When I arrived, there were no shopping carts available (trolleys, for those who live in a Commonwealth country).   I had to wait for somebody to return one.

This had never happened to me before.

After purchasing a few items, I went to the check-out to pay.   I asked the man there if it was always this full on Sunday at lunch time.   He said yes, that most of their customers at this particular time of day had just gone to church and were now doing their shopping.

I remarked on how, when I was growing up, nothing was open on a Sunday.   He looked at me as if I was really old!

It wasn’t until 1994 that stores in the United Kingdom could open on Sundays.   Before that, newspaper shops were open on Sunday mornings, so that people could buy their trashy tabloids and keep up on all the sin politicians and others were committing; but the general populace was expected to observe “the Lord’s Day.”   In the sixties television did not commence programming until sometime in the afternoon and there was a mandatory evening break for religious programming.

When South Africa first got television in 1976, no entertainment was allowed on television on Sundays.   I remember watching the South African Defense Force Choir singing hymns followed by a documentary from Alistair Cooke on the Mormons.  No advertisements were permitted, either.   It was also forbidden to buy alcohol, unless you were resident in a hotel and could use their bar.

Back in 1895, when Theodore Roosevelt was appointed President of New York City’s 4-man Board of Police Commissioners, he chose to strictly enforce the “Blue Laws” that prohibited Sunday drinking.   This was not appreciated, especially by German immigrants who liked to down a stein of beer with their comrades on Sundays.   The once popular TR quickly turned into the most reviled man in America.   Fortunately for him (and the German beer drinkers), President William McKinley appointed him to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897.   Four years later, when McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became President.

I remember my mother telling me that during World War II, the local town council had allowed cinemas to open after 4pm on Sundays, to cater for the American GI’s based close by.   Clark Gable, then the most popular male actor in Hollywood, had been seen on the steps one Sunday afternoon.

In 1947, Compton MacKenzie wrote his classic novel “Whisky Galore,” which told the story of a small Scottish island during World War II that ran out of whisky.   The islanders were uplifted when a merchant vessel carrying Scotch ran aground off their coast.   But, sadly, this happened late on a Saturday evening and there was nothing they could do to rescue the desired liquid until the “Sabbath” was over.   After church Sunday morning, the men all gathered on the cliff top and simply watched the wrecked ship longingly!   But Sunday night, immediately after the stroke of midnight, the men were all there on the rocks salvaging what they could to enjoy the drink, perhaps also on the rocks!   The book was turned into a movie the following year.   For some reason the title was changed in the US to “Tight Little Island.”

A popular story in the 60’s was about the sky-diver in Northern Ireland who had fallen to his death when his chute failed to open.   The comment was made that “he should have known that nothing opens on a Sunday in Belfast!”   (I’m sure things have changed since.)

We’ve come a long way in the last fifty years.   Now church-goers routinely do their weekly grocery shopping on the way home from church, something that would have been unthinkable two generations ago.

An article by a syndicated US columnist some years ago showed that the same church-goers then went home and watched football followed by “Desperate Housewives” which was based on everybody breaking the Ten Commandments.

One hour of church followed by two hours of shopping, then a family meal, football and a trashy, unchristian TV show.   One has to question the priorities Christians have.

I’m sure God does.   When people, even Christians, have so little time for Him, why should He have time for them?

The root word for Sabbath means “to rest, to cease from labor.”   Jesus Christ said:   “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).   In other words, a 24-hour period of rest from work and from “doing our own pleasure” (Isaiah 58:13) is for our own good.

Today, most people are stressed out, most of the time.   The need for a day of rest has never been greater, yet many don’t have one.    And, if they do, other members of their family may not, so it’s become very difficult to get families together to build the bonds necessary for any society to thrive.

Instead, people are constantly working in one way or another, always trying to make a few dollars more or to have more fun.

We live in a society where God is not taken seriously.   One hour a week in church, followed by the pursuit of secular pleasures is not what He intended.

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath and attended the synagogue every Saturday (Luke 4:16).   Christians are to be like Him.   We should do the same.   It’s one of the Ten Commandments.   “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Previous generations in North America, Britain, Australia and elsewhere were very strict about Sabbath observance.   The irony is that the biblical Sabbath commanded here in the Ten Commandments was not Sunday.   Rather, it was the seventh day, to be exact, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

People need a day of rest, the Sabbath.   Instead, we have a society where everybody is worn out, with consequent serious damage to family life and relationships.   It’s never too late to change and to start keeping the Sabbath as God intended.

 

HOLLYWOOD IS NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF TEACHING HISTORY

Patriot

Hollywood is adding to US foreign policy woes at an incredible rate. No less than four current movies are causing upsets in various parts of the world.

“The Interview” has received a lot of attention.   I have not seen it and would have had no interest in seeing it, if North Korea’s paranoid regime hadn’t flipped out over the movie, blaming the US president personally for its showing. (When you’ve grown up in a country where the “Dear Leader” decides everything, it’s not surprising that people think the US president plays the same role in America!)

The movie revolves around a comedic attempt to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Along the way it makes fun of the more comical aspects of the regime.

As the US has never had good relations with North Korea anyway, Pyongyang’s anger can largely be ignored. But other movies are also a problem.

“American Sniper” has been labeled racist by Muslims who see the conflict with ISIS as a continuation of the clash of civilizations between the “Christian” West and the Islamic world. The movie tells the true story of the US military’s greatest sniper, who killed over 200 people during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As all his victims were Muslims, he, therefore, must be a racist. Don’t look for logic – it’s not a strong point with people who grew up in the Middle East.

“Unbroken” is also a problem, this time with the Japanese. Conservatives in the country are upset over the way Japan’s troops are portrayed in the film, which again is a true story, telling the story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini’s experience in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in WWII.   It’s not the first movie to depict the horrors of life in a Japanese POW camp.   They had no respect for prisoners as their own military culture taught that fighting to the death was preferable to surrender.

The truth is the truth. No apologies need be made for “American Sniper” or “Unbroken”, assuming they stuck to the truth.

Even “Exodus” has been quite controversial, thousands of years after the event. My wife and I didn’t like it. Nor did the Egyptians who said it was “inaccurate,” that Jewish slaves did not build the pyramids and that the depiction of ancient Egyptians was not accurate. Although the depiction of the plagues was interesting and imaginative, and Christian Bale played a convincing Moses, the parting of the Red Sea and receiving of the Ten Commandments were much better in the 1956 version, when special effects were more primitive.   Perhaps the downplaying of the commandments reflects changing societal attitudes in the interim decades.

In Egypt, ‘Censors objected to the “intentional gross historical fallacies that offend Egypt and its pharaonic ancient history in yet another attempt to Judaize Egyptian civilization, which confirms the international Zionist fingerprints all over the film,” the statement said.

The ministry said the movie inaccurately depicts ancient Egyptians as “savages” who kill and hang Jews, arguing that hanging did not exist in ancient Egypt. It said the film also presents a “racist” depiction of Jews as a people who mounted an armed rebellion. The ministry said religious scriptures present Jews as weak and oppressed.

The statement also objected to the depiction of God as a child, which also drew criticism in the West.’  (Seattle Times, December 28th)

Hollywood has always had a problem with religion, rarely depicting biblical events with any degree of accuracy. “The Ten Commandments” (1956) was one of the better biblical movies, with considerable input from Josephus.

But Hollywood has also had a serious problem with history. I cannot think of any historical movie made in Hollywood that was 100% accurate. “Braveheart” has been labeled the most historically inaccurate movie ever made, with 87 historical inaccuracies, according to one website. Another Mel Gibson movie, “The Patriot” got the prize for the fourth most inaccurate movie in history. Amongst other things, the movie depicted British soldiers burning down a church with people in it. The film was set during the Revolutionary War.   British soldiers have never burned down a church full of worshippers, never at any time in history. If they did, they would be court-martialed and severely punished. But it made for great entertainment!

Mel Gibson defended these movies by saying, “We are not in the business of teaching history. We are in the business of providing entertainment to make money.” (The quote is a paraphrase heard on NPR many years ago.)

At least he was honest. Perhaps his anti-semitic rantings owe their origin to the same ignorance of history!

Hollywood has always had a problem with history.

Exactly a century ago next month, what is considered the most influential movie in American history, premiered. “The Birth of a Nation” was an anti-black, pro-KKK movie that led to riots in cities across America. The film was set during the Civil War and Reconstruction and blamed African-Americans for the problems that plagued the US during this period. The NAACP tried to get the film banned. The movie was the first motion picture screened at the White House, then occupied by President Woodrow Wilson.

In an age when few people read anything in depth, preferring to spend their time with electronic gadgets, including TV and DVD’s, movies are perceived as fact.   But they rarely are. If you want to know the facts, you have to read and do the research.

The 1960 John Wayne movie “The Alamo” was made with two historical advisers during production. One of them walked off the set saying, “there isn’t one minute of historical accuracy in this film” but it hasn’t stopped people watching it in the last 55 years.

Hollywood has a responsibility to strive for accuracy. It can be done. Good movies can be made while maintaining accuracy. “To Kill a King” is a prime example. This is a British movie about the English Civil War, the execution of the King and the subsequent Republic under Oliver Cromwell. The film was lauded by historians as the most accurate historical movie ever made.

Sadly, it’s hard to track down. Perhaps, after all, people are not interested in facts – they just want to be entertained!

OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDER

obama-cnn

President Obama’s speech on Thursday announcing his executive order on illegal immigration was not watched by many people. Most of the usual television stations did not show it.

It’s just as well.   It was misleading.

He referred to the fact that America has always been a land of immigrants (true) but it is misleading to imply that there is a correlation between the present situation and the past.

At the time of independence, the US was 98% Protestant, 1% Catholic, and 1% “Other,” including Jews. This means that, in the 175 years of the colonial period that came before independence, almost all immigrants came from the Protestant countries of NW Europe.   They mostly came from the British Isles.   This trend continued well into the nineteenth century.   When Irish Catholic immigrants started arriving in significant numbers, they were not made very welcome. Washington DC even witnessed anti-Catholic riots.

Today, according to the Pew Research Center, 51.3% are Protestants and 23.9% Catholic. “Others” number 4.7% — this includes Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, three religions not represented in America’s early years.   That’s quite a change in a little over 200 years. The United States is well on the way to becoming a minority Protestant country.

Religious tolerance developed in majority Protestant countries, the nations of NW Europe and especially England. This was due mainly to the proliferation of different denominations. “If there were only one religion in England,” wrote Voltaire in his Philosophical Letters, “we should have to fear despotism; if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats; but there were thirty and they live in peace and happiness.” (The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood, 1991, page 14.)   The number of denominations in both England and the American colonies was the same.

The fact that Protestantism is in decline in the United States will likely lead to greater religious intolerance. It has already contributed to significant changes.   Not so long ago the Protestant Ten Commandments were taught in school (the Catholic Ten Commandments are different; really, check out a Catholic Bible!)   The Bible was considered the Word of God. I grew up in England. I remember us being taught Bible stories as young children in school. I remember asking one of my teachers how you got three days and three nights into the period between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I don’t remember exactly what he said but I do remember he attempted to answer the question.   This would be unheard of today in a state run school.

Some of the religions entering the US today are known for their intolerance. Many immigrants come from countries violently divided between different religious factions. Those divisions are in danger of spilling over into the US.

“America by the Numbers” is a PBS series dedicated to highlighting the “major demographic change” that is taking place in the United States. It makes the changes seem so positive, yet geography and history show that different ethnic groups and religions will not get along once they are present in significant numbers.

The President’s speech was also misleading in another way.

When immigrants came to the US in previous centuries they were very much on their own. Churches and charities might have helped to a limited degree but immigrants had to find work fast to take care of themselves. Today, government helps. At the very least, free medical care is provided (no one can be turned away from ER) and free education for children, courtesy of tax-payers who are largely unaware.

Government even helps with accommodation, food, and transport.

This is not just in the United States. Other western countries do the same. Is it any wonder that hundreds of thousands, even millions, annually, are leaving their own countries and moving to western nations? Without the freebies, most would not attempt the journey.

Mr. Obama’s executive order will help to fundamentally change the country, a process that started 50 years ago with the 1965 immigration act. In time, it will also guarantee the Democrats five million more votes!