Tag Archives: Terrorism

“Did I do that?” By Jim Bennett

In Our Next Issue: Are Baptists Responsible for Climate Change? Lengthy Sermons Produce Greenhouse Gases.

            I recently found myself at a newsstand, staring in disbelief at a magazine.  I initially thought it was some kind of parody, but it wasn’t “The Onion,” it was “The Atlantic.”  Yes, the venerable “Atlantic,” founded by such literary luminaries as Emerson, Longfellow, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.  On the cover of the December 2009 issue is a photograph of a Christian cross bedecked with signs reading “Foreclosure” and “For Sale,” along with this headline:  “Did Christianity Cause The Crash?  How Preachers Are Spreading a Gospel of Debt.” 

Yes, I did. I did do that.

           For a moment I pictured myself dressed as Urkel, standing in the smoking rubble of a demolished US Treasury Building, pointing at the mess and sheepishly, nasally intoning, “Did I do that?”        
            In all fairness, the article does refer specifically to the chicanery of the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity frauds.   I have long been disturbed by cashier-clergymen like Peter Popoff and Benny Hinn, though my objections are mainly theological in character.  But to blame bad doctrine, heretical though it may be, for the global economic collapse is absurd.  (Unless, of course, Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd have been ordained and are now co-hosting a new “PTL Club” television program.) 

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of Dodd.

            The article aside, however, the cover draws no distinction between health-and-wealth con men and legitimate, sincere, biblical believers.  Call me paranoid, but I wonder if this isn’t an early and mild precursor to persecution.     
            I use the phrase “early and mild precursor” advisedly.  In Islamic regions, in parts of India, and in communist nations like China and North Korea, persecution simply comes with being a Christ-follower; here in the States, on the other hand, the church has it relatively soft and cushy right now.  But could magazine covers like this one be a foretaste of the near future?   
            If so, the first requirement would be a real or ginned-up crisis – the kind that inspires mob mentality and fear.  After that, the scapegoating can begin in earnest.  History bears this out:  When Emperor Nero wanted to initiate his own campaign of anti-Christian persecution, he did it by pinning a disaster on them.  In 64 A.D., a fire destroyed 10 of the 14 wards of Rome.  The citizens suspected Nero was behind the fire.  In his Annals of Imperial Rome (XV.44), the Roman historian Tacitus wrote an account of Nero’s response:
            “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called ‘Christians’ by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus…Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted.”        
            Nero killed two birds with one stone.  He coerced confessions to dodge the blame, and he finally had a viable rationalization for persecuting Christians.
            Maybe you’re saying, “Well, O Paranoid One, this magazine cover does hit on Christianity, but other faiths take a beating in the media too.”  Hm.  Let’s contrast the Atlantic cover against one recent incident:  The Fort Hood Massacre. 
            The Culture and Media Institute is a conservative group that monitors media trends for signs of liberal bias.  They recently published a study entitled, “PC News: Networks Downplay Terrorism, Muslim Connection in Ft. Hood Attack.”  Some highlights: 
            “85 percent of the broadcast stories didn’t mention the word ‘terror.’ ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news

ABC News reports that the gunman was not shouting "Allahu Akbar," but was, in fact, just singing "Rock the Casbah."

referenced terrorism connections to the Fort Hood attack just seven times in 48 reports.”  
            Only “twenty-nine percent of evening news reports mentioned that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was a Muslim.  Of those, half (7 out of 14) defended the religion or included experts to do so.”
            Remember the slaying of abortionist George Tiller?  It seemed like every news outlet in America was describing it as “domestic terrorism,” and many in the media didn’t even wait for the capture of a suspect before connecting Pro-Life Christian teachings and rhetoric to the murder. So, while the cover of “The Atlantic” whispers that Christianity caused the recession, it seems the major news networks would have us believe that Islamic jihadist teachings and terrorism played no role in the Fort Hood Massacre. 
            Am I paranoid?  I can only paraphrase Joseph Heller or Kurt Cobain or the anonymous bumper sticker sloganeer who first observed, “I may be paranoid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘they’ aren’t out to get me.”  (Insert eerie Theremin solo here!)     
            So watch and pray, believers, but most of all, trust, because “God hath not given us the spirit of fear.”  And we can be sure this hasn’t taken our Savior by surprise:  In Matthew 10:22, Jesus said, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”


“America: Help Is On The Way” By Jim Bennett

eye              These are grim times indeed.  This nation is beset on all sides by virtually every imaginable scourge:  War, the H1N1 virus, economic disaster, Kanye West…However, I question the pall of hopelessness that has descended.  You can call me a cockeyed optimist all you wish (although I prefer you address me by my nickname, “Spanky B”), but the truth is I’m merely aware of something that apparently most of us have forgotten:  Our government’s most effective problem-solving agency – more heroic than even the Department of Agriculture – is on the job.  Why would we despair for America’s destiny when the Office of Scientific Intelligence has never failed us before?  They are working, quietly and competently, behind the scenes, and therefore no citizen need be anxious about the future of the USA.  With them as our secret weapon, my fellow Americans, our tomorrows are brighter than ever. 

            Consider their track record.  I think you’ll see that the tasks at hand today are relatively routine for an agency of their caliber.  Take the economy, for example.  How hard could it be for them to restore it?  I mean, they took Steve Austin, astronaut – a man barely alive, mind you – and using the technology they had, they built the world’s first bionic man.  Sure, it cost six million dollars to do it, and yeah, that sounds like a lot of money, but not when you figure in the fact that the contractor’s top-end estimate was 8.3 million!  And not only did they rebuild him, they also made him better than he was before; and not just better – also stronger, AND faster!  But most importantly, they brought the whole project in well under budget, and with no overtime.

            Some feel our greatest enemy is a Carter-esque state of national malaise; they say President Obama does not exude the kind of personal strength that inspires the people’s confidence.  Whether he does or doesn’t is a matter of opinion with a margin of error of plus or minus three percent, but does it really matter?  All of those reassuring qualities and more are found in Oscar Goldman, the venerable director of the OSI and the real power behind the throne.  I defy you to find a more dignified, capable leader anywhere.  Under his unwavering, wise command, every national crisis we have faced in recent memory has been resolved.  And each of them was far more catastrophic that any current menace.    

            There are those who are convinced that climate change will end life as we know it.  Have we so soon forgotten the cataclysmic storms of 1977?  When the OSI learned the climatic upheaval was actually being provoked by a deranged scientist attempting to alter the moon’s orbit, they didn’t wait for Congressman Barney Frank to convene the House Committee on Financial Services!  Oscar Goldman did what decisive leaders do in a crisis:  He dispatched his machine-man to the lunar surface, and Mr. Austin promptly dealt out some cyborg justice.  That’s just how the OSI rolls.  Trust me, if global warming actually is melting the Arctic ice shelf, it’s only a matter of time until the OSI makes sure all our polar bears stop drowning and get back to the three things polar bears do best:  Looking cuddly, pitching Coca-Cola, and serving as the upholstery for the couch in Sarah Palin’s office.

            For some, the gravest fear is that a terrorist will rise up and be our nation’s undoing.  Do I really need to recount for you what happened to the mastermind who tried to extort millions from our  government by raising an abandoned Nazi U-boat and threatening to launch atomic weapons at our shores?  One bionic beatdown later and the score was USA: 1, crazed submariner: 0.    

            Look, I know things appear bleak right now, but when you feel afraid, just do what I do:  Close your eyes, hum the Star Spangled Banner, and remember that Steve Austin once beat up a robot Sasquatch so badly that its arm came off.  We can rest easy, knowing this nation’s security is under Steve’s watchful eye, with its bionic, 20:1 zoom lens and night vision function.   

            (Note to readers:  I accept full responsibility for this column.  I was the one who forgot to pick up Jim’s medication, and I was also the one who bought him the “Six Million Dollar Man” DVD box set for his birthday.  His physician assures me he’ll be fine after a little rest. – The Mrs.)

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