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Thursday, April 18th 2013

22:45

Judge not!

  • STATE OF EXISTENCE: Not bad. But concerned.

Looks like your humble bloggist is continuing to try to stay on top of developments on the Boston Marathon bombing. The FBI may be disclosing relevant videos of "persons of interest." The FBI has just released a video of two suspects. Each of the last three evenings, I have constantly flipped back and forth to make sure I wasn't writing about something that had just been changed, and I almost did it this time. But when you look at the video after the annoying commercial, you will not hear any audio. Some people are saying that the FBI is not telling us enough; others are shocked by the number of "leaks." Doctors are warning about post-traumatic stress that not too many people my actually be experiencing. I said the other day that the early commentaries, which predicted that the influence of the Boston bombing on our nation's psyche may have a worse effect on our nation's psyche than 9/11, may be overreactions of the moment, though I tried to explain why the comments may be right. It now looks as though my first prognosis was more accurate. A Fox News Poll has revealed some interesting data. Since in polls, so much depends on the phrasing, let me just quote a couple of short paragraphs:

      When asked which best describes how they feel about the bombings, 58 percent of voters say: angry.  That’s double the number who feels worried (27 percent).

As I pointed out, anger seems to be the most reasonable response, though I also clarified that anger need not lead to inappropriate responses. Also:

      Most voters -- 79 percent -- are confident the government will catch those responsible.

To me, one of the most interesting questions was, "Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?" The page that gives the details of the poll also supplies a record of how the same question has been answered in the past, as well as the obvious breakdowns into various constituencies. It is the overall history that I find fascinating:

Date

Yes

No

(Don't Know)

My Comment

April 16, 2013

43%

45

12

For the first time in many years, for this question asked by a Fox News Poll, the "No's" once again outstrip the "Yes's." Perhaps Americans are beginning to see that to give up what makes America special is neither desirable nor efficacious in warding off terrorism. In the meantime, new uniforms have been ordered for TSA workers.

Past Trend

 

 

 

My ignorance: Why are past responses called a "trend"?  

May 16-18, 2006

54%

36

10

There's quite a gap here in time. This poll came in the middle of George W. Bush's second term. TSA workers get new uniforms.

January 10-11, 2006

61%

27

13

 

July 26-27, 2005

64%

24

15

This poll was taken not too long after the series of bombings in London.

September 8-9, 2002

61%

24

15

 About a year after 9/11, the numbers have settled in. Federal anti-terrorism measures are conceived by imaginative people and implemented by eager politicians. TSA workers get new uniforms.

June 4-5, 2002

64%

21

15

 

Oct 17-18, 2001

71%

20

9

Here we are, of course, a month from 9/11, when the country was swept by fear.

May 9-10, 2001

33%

40

27

 The early months of the GWB administration. The "No's" have it, but look at that incredible 27%  of people polled who for some reason did not come up with an answer.

Aug 7-8, 1996

60%

30

10

This date falls into the period when the Clinton re-election campaign (vs. Bob Dole) was warming up. (One can hardly say "heating up" for that one.) What precipitated the cynical attitude expressed here, I wonder?

Another interesting question: As a result of the Boston Marathon bombings, will you change the way you lead your everyday life?
Total "yes": 18%, broken up into 5% "a lot," 13% "a little"; total "no": 81%; (don't know): 1%. I wonder what those who responded with "yes" intend to do, particularly the 5% who said "a lot." Are they going to pray more for their safety and become better people? Good. Are they going to start becoming hyper-suspicious wherever they go? Not so good. Are they going to stay home and never go anywhere where there are crowds? I hope not.

With regard to Nick, I can only say this much: In terms of his physical state, it's remaining more or less the same: high blood pressure, low energy. In terms of the hunt for a cause, we've only just begun. Thanks for continued prayers.

A quick metereological question: If April showers bring May flowers, do April thunder showers bring May thunder flowers? The amount of rain we're getting is unbelievable. I did manage to take out the No. 14 A. J. Foyt & Tony Stewart Sears Craftsman Silberpfeil Tractor to get rid of our tall-grass prairie, but shortly thereafter, the clouds opened up again along with thunder and lightning.

Please, if you have not yet done so, read the editorial by Erick Erickson: "Boston, West, Texas, America, Don't Give Up Hope."

 

   
Luke Bible Study      

        Bible Reading:         Luke 6:37-42

v. 37:  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.(HCSB)

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you what may be the most misused verse in the entire Bible!" [Flourish offstage].

"Judge not lest ye be judged!" Taken out of context, what a cheap and careless way of making light of the most important decisions a human being has to make. What has Jesus been doing the entire time both before and after this statement? He has been judging. He has been telling us to judge. Either he is uttering blatantly self-referentially incoherent nonsense, or he's saying something different from: we should not pass moral judgment on people's actions; we should not inform people that without Christ they are facing a bleak eternity; we should refrain from saying anything that might make somebody aware of what a miserable, hurtful life they're leading; etc. There are a myriad of ways of yanking this verse out of context in order to rationalize sin and a refusal of God's gift of salvation, and I've heard a lot of them, as I am sure you have.

Remember the context. Jesus is addressing those who wish to follow him seriously, but are liable to become hated and persecuted. In particular, Jesus is identifying the potential enemies as the people whose ancestors used to treat the prophets with hate, insults, and slander.  Now, I want to be really careful in making a plausible identification of those whom Jesus may have had in mind. First of all, it certainly was not all Jews since that would have been neither rational nor accurate. Not all Jews in the Old Testament were ungodly like Joash in his later years, and neither were many of the contemporaries of Jesus. A possible exception would be constituted by the Pharisees of the House of Shammai (Beit Shammai). As we have seen previously, some of these fellows apparently saw it as their lives' mission to show how and where somehow was breaking the Law. In the process they were clearly exuding an air of piety that could be enticing to other people. Just think how disapproval of certain people or groups tends to bring Christians today. The collection of people is based on a common dislike; it may even be biblically based, but what is communicated is only negative. What so-and-so is doing is wrong, and they need to stop it. The good news of salvation may not be absent, but gets lost in communicating the message of judgment.

It seems to me that, trying to give the passage a realistic interpretation, it is this entirely negative attitude against which Jesus directs himself. There are many Christians who address sin in our nation in a loving, caring, even self-sacrificial way. There are others who have forgotten the distinction between themselves as humans applying the Word of God and God himself, to put it simply. Do not, Jesus warns us, fall into this trap.

Jesus points out a reason why this attitude is harmful. It keeps us from seeing our own sins and shortcomings. I don't feel the need to belabor this point since few people are not aware deep down inside where they've messed up. A good idea to avoid seeing your own sinfulness is to find yourself a teachers who shares your "blindness." But, the fact is that "the blind leading the blind" is a disaster in the making.

Bravenet has been having trouble staying on-line tonight, so I hasten to my conclusion. To paraphrase, Before you judge others, make sure you have examined yourself in the light of God's Word! And then let yourself experience God's grace and make allowances for God's grace for whomever you wished to celebrate your judgment over.

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