karen horst cobb
This space contains a collection of articles formerly published on www.commondreams.org. My writings, Speeches, and interviews focus on what it means to be a follower of Christ‘s radical message to love. Also here you will find weekly meditations published on the web site of Every Church a Peace Church. I proclaim that there is no GI-Joe Jesus! The gate is narrow and the path is hard which leads to life.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Above is an audio clip of a new song I just came across. I sang it into the phone which explains the quality of the recording. At least you can get the idea.
The words and the music are at
How true are these words?
If the war goes on and the children die of hunger,
and the old men weep, for the young men are no more,
and the women learn how to dance with out a partner,
who will keep the score?
If the war goes on and the truth is taken hostage,
and new terrors lead to the need to euphemize;
when the calls for peace are declared unpatriotic,
who'll expose the lies.
If the war goes on and the daily bread is terror,
and the voiceless poor take the road as refugees;
when a nation's pride destines millions to be homeless,
who will heed their pleas?
If the war goes on and the rich increase their fortunes,
and the arms sales soar as new weapons are displayed;
when a fertile field turns to no man's land tomorrow,
who'll approve such trade.
If the war goes on, will we close the doors to heaven?
If the war goes on, will we breach the gates of hell?
If the war goes on, will we ever be forgiven?
If the war goes on...
Saturday, March 25, 2006
SPEECH:Just Remember Who You Are
Christians:Just Remember who you Are
Speech 3/19/06 Gainesville FL
By Karen Horst Cobb
When fascism comes to American it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. Sinclair Lewis 1935 (from- It Can't Happen Here)
When I was a child I wondered if I would have been brave enough to hide Anne Frank in my attic but, I never considered I could some day be the one needing to be hidden.
Lindsey Graham (R. SC) recently appealed to the attorney General:
“The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,” (Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6. 2006)
Radio personalities have suggested that all the war demonstrators and “liberals who hate America” are giving “aid and comfort to the enemy “and should be rounded up. It looks like those who refuse to believe that all Muslims are extremists, or who want the US to follow the Geneva Convention, or want to preserve the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. or want the Red Cross to visit our prisons, or want the U.S. to adhere to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, all might fall within the definition of the 5th column.
Just weeks before, KBR was awarded a $365 million contract by Homeland Security to build new detention camps for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.”
-This artist needs to know-Do FEMA camps have arts and crafts?-
I don’t know if I have quite risen to the 5th column status but I have written a few things that have gained some attention. Someone once warned that I have “risen above the media radar and I will never be able to go back “ So be it. My message is simple and clear. Just remember who you are.
My father used to say that when I was ready to leave the house. “Just remember who you are!” I knew exactly what that meant. It meant remember what you’ve been taught, Be bold and have courage to resist peer pressure, and don’t bring shame to my name.
Remembering right from wrong
Many of us do remember what we’ve been taught in Sunday School. Exodus 20- the law given to Moses -gives a checklist of what is right. We know the 10 commandments. Not long ago the battle to allow a giant block of stone with the 10 laws in the center of the Alabama Courthouse caused quite a stir. Political Christians demanded it was their right while constitutional scholars said it violated Article Six of the constitution -barring religious tests for public office.
The Christian- reconstructionists want to establish a government ruled by God- a theocracy. Some of them seek to hold all of culture to the letter of Old Testament law. Dr. James Kennedy says in his book "Christians did not start the culture war but...we are going to end it. That is a fact, and the Bible assures us of victory." Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony with ties to the forming of the Rutherford Institute have gone as far are to call for public executions and public participation in stoning homosexuals, disobedient children adulterers and many others. They suggest stoning is a good way to enforce the law. Many people love the law just as rich religious leaders did during Jesus time. It makes them feel good to check off the list and make sure their not sinful or evil.
The religious power brokers never argue about the fruits of the spirit which result from the law of the New Testament- the New covenant-the New Promise! The New Contract. Now, that would be a contract with America. Imagine a monument constructed with the character traits of a a follower of Jesus- the fruit of the spirit. They are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control-imagine that- in our publics buildings. Jesus said “against such things there is no law” Better yet, imagine if all those who sat in judgment in our courts demonstrated the fruit of the spirit.
It would be hard to punish poor women who believed they can’t care for another child or sentence the retarded to lethal injection. It would be impossible to rule that inflicting pain to get information is not torture until it reaches the point of organ failure (that is the current ruling of the attorney general- anything short of organ failure is not legally torture.) It would be impossible to take hostages, hold innocent people prisoner, inflict economic sanctions which deny people food, water and medicine to coerce them into doing what is in our best interests.
Jesus said all the laws are summed up in just two. Love the lord your God with all you heart soul mind and strength and love your neighbor as your self. He then went on and told the story of the good Samaritan just so there would never be any question . We are to love everyone on the planet. The good Samaritan had a different language, skin color, and religion. Samaria and Galilee were in constant battle. Their citizens were considered enemies of one another.
The religious men of the day were not willing help. They were afraid of being defiled because they feared he was dead and the law insisted that they not touch a dead person. Their adherence to the letter of the law kept them from having compassion and taking a risk. It was the “heathen” the one considered to be spiritually inferior who was moved to compassion.
Those who love the law gaze lovingly at their own glory and righteousness. These are the ones who want to punish people severely for sexual sins and identify who is deserving of God’s love, protection and support. Many say the bible is unclear about war but is very clear about sexual sin. They say that there are “just wars” that killing evil people is a Christian duty and sexual sins are an abomination to god.
The same people who take many other things literally disregard Jesus command to , “Love your enemies, Bless those who curse you, Pray for those who despitefully use you“. You know -the hard stuff! The stuff that involves personal sacrifice. They disregard Jesus commandment and warnings about even harming the hair on the head of a little child. These Followers of the old covenant actually use the name of Christ -Christ-ians to not only harm the hairs of little children but to use daisy bombs, depleted uranium weapons, rocket launchers and white phosphorous to blow off arms and legs and faces and burn the flesh until there is nothing left but blackened bones lying in the desert. Jesus said don’t harm a hair on their head. It was very clear!
Many today who use the name of Jesus use it in vain. (remember that was something we were commanded not to do) Most of our political leaders identify themselves as followers of Christ. They have judged who is good (that would be them) and who is evil (that would be anyone who does not cooperate with them) Our enemies were told by a “christian” that “the American lifestyle is not negotionable” At that point followers of Jesus should have taken to the streets, sent letters and e-mails and loudly proclaimed to the world that American Christians are willing to negotiate our life style if it means that others could live. Sadly perhaps this might not be true. As a nation we have not been the good Samaritan in the world today. I was willing to negotiate. I could give up one car, coordinate my trips to town. Wear more sweaters this winter, put solar panels on my house…..I would have done anything to prevent the “shock and awe” and the harming of the hairs on the heads of little Arab children.
Those who disregard Jesus’ very clear statements are saying that Jesus did not mean what he said or that he wasn’t a very clear communicator. He meant what he said! He was very clear! and THEN just in case his words weren’t enough he demonstrated what it looks like to love us to death. There is no way to miss what he is saying unless one wants to miss it. -Being a follower of Christ requires sacrifice of lifestyle, being willing to endure hardship, taking personal risks and responding to terror with love. That is what it means to be a Christ-ian. It is understandable that a president or government leader would feel a need at times to defend a country or to go to war but it should never be blamed on Jesus or attributed to his desire.
I wish the name of Jesus had not been dragged onto the bloodied battle field. I wish I did not have to speak publicly against the defaming of Jesus name. I wish I didn’t have to take a political stand but since his name has been dragged onto the battle field, his character defamed, his name taken in vain, I’m compelled His name is now associated with death and destruction of men women and children, communities and culture. I have no choice but to take a stand.
We do know right from wrong because Jesus gave everything he had to communicate it to us. We have his words, we have his stories we have his example of unconditional love and forgiveness. We had the old law written in stone but we have the new law written on our hearts. We had the old law which is enforced with stoning and animal sacrifices and the new law which is encouraged with love, compassion and Jesus’ death. We have the old law which condemns and we have the new law which sets us free. We have the old law which has passed away and the new law which will remain forever. It is simple, it is clear, it demands taking a risk and loving in the face of fear. It takes not going along with the crowd.
Be bold and couragous
Be angry and sin not! What a challenge. Jesus’ clearing the money changer from the temple is often used to support Christian’s use of violent force to intimidate and bring fear. -to terrorize. When I read this scripture I see a much different picture. It encourages me to be bold.
Imagine the temple-no doubt built of bricks -perhaps like adobe buildings in New Mexico. Usually buildings in desert regions have very few windows, thick walls and stone floors a heavy door which is opened in the afternoon. There is little ventilation and high temperatures. Imagine a courtyard close to the entrance filled with goats and sheep and foul, hundreds of temple sacrifices each day.- day in and day out. -The humid pungent smell and stains of fresh blood and burnt and burning flesh. The bleating sheep and goats, the squeaking foul all facing eminent death. Fresh manure baking on the stone pavement and bird droppings mingling with the smell of burning sins. The commoners standing in line spending hard earned money to buy the animals so they can kill them and become free from the guilt the rich pious merchants rabbis loaded them down with as they added on to the torah and created the Talmud of impossible laws to observe. The senseless killing of animals while hungry worshipers who go home feeling only a little less guilty.
Imagine the heart of Christ.- Knowing he was to be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He the -once and for all- sacrificial lamb. No more needless animal sacrifices to assuage the guilt inflicted by impossible laws. No more standing in line, giving ones last dime to the golden coffers of the temple. The manipulations of the Sadducees and Pharisees would be over, their religious empires would be toppled. The people and the animals would be set free for noble purposes.
I’ve read this passage in several bibles. Depending on the translation or version one gets a different picture. In my grandpas Self-pronouncing ss teachers combination bible (showing in simple form all changes, additions, and omission made by the revisers in the king James Version - copyrighted in 1895) It looks like Jesus just picked up a few cords (I suspect used to transport the animals or tied around the legs of the foul) It just says cords laying near by. He tied a knot in the end of each and chased out the animals then he came back and over turned the tables of the money changers. I can’t see that he whipped any people. We have to realize that many things we just take for granted are really a result of the imaginations of renaissance painters. who came out of a very dark time. I remember the pictures in bible story books showing the money changers with terror in their eyes and their fore arms extended to protect their faces from a mighty whip. Some even show bloodied victims of Jesus wrath or Jesus with hate filled eyes. I find no evidence he committed any act of violence.
If God sees the sparrow fall, if he leaves the 99 to look for the little lost sheep how could it be possible he would inflict violence on other human beings. And if I can feel compassion and empathy for the people who stood in line and the animals whose death was certain I am sure that the source of all love and compassion -Jesus himself- was responding out of love.
Here is a little aside concerning animals: I am an animal lover and since I have goats and chickens (and a few pigeons who came to live with them,) And, I’ve been around sheep and will soon be caring for several alpacas - I sit up and pay attention when animals are mentioned in the bible. Goats and sheep especially are part of desert culture and used as metaphor to explain spiritual principles. Jesus is the good Shepard and his sheep know his voice (they know whose they are).
I have to admit I am always bothered to read that the sheep and goats will be separated and the sheep will go to the right hand of God and the goats will “burn in hell when Christ returns.” I always thought that sheep were identified as more virtuous than goats because they just follow along and don’t cause trouble. This doesn’t seem right to me as a follower of Christ because I seem to be getting into a lot of trouble these days just by repeating his words. So last time I went to visit Tammy the rancher who has herds of both sheep and goats (and admits she knows nothing about the bible) I asked her what she saw as the main difference between the herds. She quickly responded that Sheep are much more peaceful but goats are always competing for dominance. I suspect this is the reason Jesus uses the sheep analogy -they are peaceful and live in community well - they know his voice. But sheep are not easily startled and fearful.
How do we find the courage to stand against the religious money changers of our time? How do we love so much that we are compelled to speak out? To set the captives free from the weight of religious fundamentalism which demands seed faith money, sells magic cloths, and rugs and fancy boxed sets of books and tapes and cartoons and Jesus junk. Or those who tell people that God is punishing them for their sins in hurricanes and heart disease and is calling for assignations.
Following my recent article America‘s moral Decline and the Rise of False Christianity in which I identified the overflowing coffers of today’s megachruches someone responded saying it is necessary to have big budgets and elaborate electronics and studios because they are competing for the minds of children for video games and cartoons. I hadn‘t thought much about it but I replied that one of the best ways to teach a bible story is while it is happening. When you stop to help the homeless man or give a ride to someone who is stranded. That makes an impression our children tell to their friend and they will never forget the principles.
How do we find courage in a world which loves to promise security. Financial security, social security, homeland security. We have used our fears to wall us off from loving, from community, from taking risks, from speaking truth to religious dominionists.
Even in our good deeds we are not bold. We take the safest way out. I have often thought that if Matthew 25 were written for 2006 it would read. I was hungry and you gave me a map to the food bank, I was thirsty and you gave me lemonade powder so if I find water I can really enjoy it. I was a stranger and you reported me to the nicest INS agent. I was sick and in prison and you called your minister to drop off a pamphlet to let me know that God cares.
It takes boldness and courage to follow the narrow path. The gate is narrow and the path is hard.-If you noticed that the gate you went through was massive and that there are a lots people traveling with you on the easy way it is a good Idea to turn around, go back and then -find that narrow gate. This path is not a path of safety or security just ask Tom Fox and Rachel Corrie. There are steep edges, stumbling blocks. low hanging branches, twists and turns, there are homeless people along the way, there are loud hate filled preachers who stand in your way. There are dieing people, there are starving people there are people with illness and disease, there are prisoners, detainees, Republicans and Democrats and government agents who try to deter you from the narrow path. Just remember whose you are! Don’t go along with the crowd and bring honor to my name.
Bring Honor to Christ’s name
For many of us (especially Mennonites) our last names are held in high regard. Who is you father, who is your mother, who are your brothers and sisters and uncles, aunts and cousins. What is your family legacy? Have you brought shame or honor to your family? This is the question followers of Christ need to ask.
How have our actions or lack of actions reflected on the name of Christ. What do people know about my heavenly father after having met me? What do people around the world think of those who say they are imitators of Christ? I wonder if Moslems are wanting to convert to Christianity these days? Is there really a war on Christians? (If there is -it is just getting started ).
It is not because America’s Christians are acting too much like Christ or loving too much that people hate them, or that they are too generous, or too empathetic. It is because they are not acting like Christ at all. They are using his name to condone greed and violence and hasten Armageddon. Why do they hate us? I wonder----
Let’s remember whose we are, discern right from wrong and take bold action! Then we will bring honor back to his name. I challenge you this week to read the words in red and be courageous for Christ. ………….“just remember who you are”
Friday, March 10, 2006
Up coming events
I have several speaking engagements in FL in the coming week. I will be in the Sarasota/Pinellas area from the 14th to the 18th. On the 19th I will be speaking at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Gainesville and participating in a vigil in the afternoon We will be remembering the anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
ARTICLE:America's Moral Decline and the Rise of a False Christianity
Published on Thursday, February 16, 2006, by CommonDreams.org
America's Moral Decline and the Rise of False Christianity
by Karen Horst Cobb
“This is the year God wants to make you a millionaire.” The visiting evangelist stomped back and forth on the stage of the rented school building. His “hallelujahs” and “praise God” crescendos were followed by jumping up and down. Sweat ran down his face as he proclaimed that the church members would not need to be afraid if the economy collapses and their neighbors houses are foreclosed upon because they are blessed and will have all of their needs met. The service ended with the explanation that the first step to becoming a millionaire is to pledge $200 of “seed faith money” to the church .
Just prior to the introduction of the evangelist the young single minister with spiky hair introduced the beginning of fellowship “life groups," explaining that the “free market” will decide which ones succeed. Recently, Ted Taggard of mega church New Life Fellowship in Colorado Springs explained that Spirituality is a “commodity “ to be bought and sold. The writings of Milton Friedman are recommended for all new converts. This young minister must also be a free market convert . His small group is a satellite of World Harvest Church. The sermon themes of the mega churches are all very similar and reflect the cause of America‘s moral decline. Christianity is getting a makeover using the classic trappings of Money, domination and military aggression.
It looks like the 50 million dollar Bible theme park which was to be built in Israel by evangelicals will not happen now that Pat Robertson insulted Ariel Sharon. Imagine a 50 million dollar Bible theme park protected by nuclear weapons in the holy land and off limits to Arabs. The harvest of the mega church is ready; welcome the gleaners, the seed faith money has matured.
According to a 2003 article in Forbes Magazine big churches are big business. Researchers found that in 2003 there were 740 mega churches each averaging 6,876 participants. The average net income of each was $4.8 million at the time of the study. The Forbes article states, “[the] entrepreneurial approach has contributed to the explosive growth of mega churches“.
Is it the entrepreneurial spirit or the Holy Spirit which is enticing the converts to this new religion? Some used to say that the love of money is the root of all evil and the rich man (like the camel) will forever be outside the kingdom. I guess that is just “too first century” for the modern believer. The millennium church makeover is all about Christian capitalism, he who the free market has set free shall be free indeed! Remember, this is the year God wants me to be a millionaire.
Some might think that putting your last hundred bucks in the offering satchel as “seed faith money” is a lot like gambling or buying a lottery ticket. Perhaps James Dobson and Ralph Reed can explain that to the Indians (and the rest of us.) A Washington Post article explains that Ralph Reed (former head of the Christian coalition) “received $4 million to whip up public sentiment against expansion of gambling in Louisiana and Texas." He did this by mobilizing evangelicals to take a stand against the immorality of gambling.
The buildings and technologies of the mega-fellowships are edifices to capitalism, free market economics, and the entrepreneurial spirit. The lexicon is slightly different but the concepts are exactly the same as those of CEO motivational speakers or a slick late night infomercial promoting real estate schemes. You can do it! You can win! You can be a success! You are smart! There are no limits to what you can achieve. Just send me some money and get started today. A quick internet search reveals sources concerning the personal life styles of the pastors of many of these churches. Their seed faith has been harvested into private jets, extravagant cars, multimillion dollar homes and much, much more. The storehouses are overflowing and with this wealth comes power.
Like Ted Haggard’s New Life Fellowship in Colorado Springs, World Harvest Church is a very politically active mega church. Rod Parsley is the pastor , “co-laborer“, as he puts it. He is also founder and president of the politically active “Center for Moral Clarity." In a few weeks he is scheduled to speak on the topic “the War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006” at the Vision America Conference Other speakers scheduled for the event are Alan Keyes, Senator Sam Brownback, John Cornyn, Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Janet Parshall, Rick Scarbrough, and Tom Delay. (yes that’s right - the multiply-indicted Tom Delay.)
I have not listened to Pastor Parsley’s CD set “Injustice in American Courts” nor have I purchased the shiny “King Arthur style sword” for $41.10 to display in my home. I have not considered taking courses at World Harvest Bible College where I can learn to "shape the culture” nor have I spent the thousands necessary to learn how to “walk in Dominion power to advance the kingdom of God through the earth” [italics added]
In his Ohio Community, religious leaders exposed the use of Pastor Parsley’s religious tax-free status to support Gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell. Yes, the same Ken Blackwell who was the co-chair of the committee to re-elect Bush/Cheney in 2004 while at the same time responsible for overseeing Ohio’s election which ended up with many irregularities.
Parsley and Blackwell launched a voter registration campaign but only to register Republican voters. Money leads to power and power leads to war.
It seems today there is a need for a tougher, meaner Jesus, a government issue Jesus (GI-Joe) who comes complete with state of the art Kevlar tunic, two edged sword, and secret code book (the book of Revelation). Evangelical Christians are organizing and conspiring to manipulate governments to use weapons if necessary to kill some of God’s children so that prime real estate goes to people whom they believe God likes best.
This immoral clarity was reported recently in the Jerusalem Post. Rev John Hagee is the organizer and leader of the Armageddon war cry and has now created the powerful political lobby, Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Christians untied for Israel (CUFI) includes Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, Jack Hayford, George Morrison, Rod Parsley and Steven Strang and many other media evangelicals. According to Hagee, “ The goal is to be strategically placed to successfully lobby Washington on behalf of Israel… Every state in the Union, every congressional district will be accounted for.” Reportedly, this lobbying group represents 30 million evangelical Christians. As we know, congress alone has the power to declare war. Will it be Christians who pressure elected officials into war? Will it be people who declare themselves to be Christ-like, who use his name to sound the collective war cry which unleashes the deadliest weapons on earth? George W. Bush said recently that “all options are on the table” when it comes to Iran.
The Evangelical Christian right is working to insure a manmade apocalypse develops in the Middle east. This powerful political faction runs parallel to the economic foreign policies of the slightly more secular neo-conservative “republican” party which has visions of empire and military rule as outlined in the Project for a New American Century's "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century" [pdf format]. It was written a year before 9/11, and, prophetically, the plan to put bases throughout the Middle East is right on schedule. John Hagee’s latest book is Jerusalem Countdown which can be viewed on his website. Evidently, it presents Iran as a horrible nuclear threat to Israel and the United States. Just for a quick check with reality here is the score on nuclear weapons: Iran-0, Israel-200, US-10,600 (as of 2002). Please explain to me who are these "people of faith” and what do they put their faith in? Experts agree that Iran is at the very least ten years away from obtaining even one nuclear warhead.Ten years is a lot of time to wage peace.
Theocratic capitalism appeals to human lust for money, power, and military rule. Conversely, simplicity, service, and humility belong to the divine. Confusing fables are taught to itching ears. (Timothy 4:3 paraphrased). The first century followers of Christ did not entertain the entrepreneurial spirit, market competition and accumulation of wealth or organized to lobby Caesar.
For some, generosity is a strategy to gain wealth to purchase political power. Christ-like generosity however results from empathic compassion and a longing for the welfare of others. This is the core of moral clarity and makes it impossible for true believers to horde wealth. The rich man and the camel are both unable to kneel low enough to pass through the eye of the needle. (Matthew 19:24).
In the upside down kingdom Jesus taught that the poor are rich, the weak are strong, and the servant is the master. It is a change of heart rather than a change of legislation and circumstances. The new Jerusalem is a community governed by the golden rule, not ancient real estate governed by religious politicians. A person living in love does not need PowerPoint seminars, CD boxed millennium sets, ornamental swords, or novels written in code. It’s all summed up in a sentence and a sacrifice- Love the lord and love your neighbor.
Warriors lust for more powerful weapons. If the Christians Untied for Israel are successful in lobbying Washington on behalf of Israel they will insure that more living souls will be destroyed. God is not an angry real estate broker who uses extortion and violence to get his way. He does not think of suffering and dying children as “collateral damage”.
The charred bodies in Fallujia incinerated by white phosphorus were living souls. Deformed babies fused together or born without limbs because of the use of depleted uranium weapons is beyond depravity. It is estimated that 150,000 living souls have been extinguished directly or indirectly as a result of the war in Iraq. Many of these are women and children.
Beautiful news models and impressive military strategists describe “magnificent” weapons and manipulate us into pride and patriotism brought to us by companies with military contracts. With deadened empathy we watched the “shock and awe” as whole families explode before our eyes. What families values support this behavior? The American dilemma remains unspoken. If I become aware, how can I remain comfortable and keep shopping?
The lust for money, dominance, and military power is at the core of America‘s moral decline. It is imperative that church leaders and laity boldly proclaim that violence, torture, hostage taking, conquests of land and resources are actions Christians can never condone. Killing for Christ is an abomination leaving us with blood-stained hands and darkness in our hearts! Every church must be a peace church or it will become a state church and then it will be… no church at all.
[Note from the author:] Some might read this article with a spirit of anger and hatred toward those mentioned. If so please re-read it in a spirit of extreme sorrow, compassion and utter despair for the loss of the Gospel of love. You may direct comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Horst Cobb wrote No Longer a Christian and No Longer a Christian - Part II published by CommonDreams.org in the fall of 2004. She is a mother and a grandmother, and with God’s grace, tries to follow the example of Christ as she speaks Christ’s message to the world that there is no Government Issue Jesus (GI-Joe Jesus.)
ARTCLE:Ye Shall Know the Truth: Profits of the New World Order
Published on Friday, July 29, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Ye Shall Know the Truth: Profits of the New World Order
by Karen Horst Cobb
The cry of many Christians today is a cry to return to the teachings of the Bible and to have a society which is righteous. I am in total support of a righteous society and have tried to imagine what it would be like. One of the first changes we would need to make is at the foundation, our banking system. Exodus 22 says that if you lend money to poor people you can not extort money from them in the form of interest. In Proverbs 28:8 the message is very clear, He says that getting rich by charging interest is wrong and that God will take his wealth and give it to the poor. Psalms 15 says that Yahweh will dwell with those who are righteous and do not charge interest on their loans. In Deuteronomy 15 it describes how all debts are forgiven every 7 years in the year of Jubilee. There are 22 times in the Old Testament which speak of the sin of charging interest on a loan. The sweat of one's brow is to be the measure of one's wage.
Jesus talked almost constantly about power and wealth and how the righteous are to relate to the poor. He explained that you can not serve God and mammon because you will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24. He made it clear that it will be very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19: 23-24). Then there is the prayer which he taught us to pray where we ask for our debts to be forgiven in the same way we have forgiven other’s debts (Matthew 6:12). The recent issue of the ten commandments being displayed in court rooms was interesting but as Jesus said there is no law against the fruits of the spirit of Christ which are Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. I doubt anyone would object to any member of our government living out the ten commandments and no one would ever legislate against the first and greatest commandment which is to love the lord your god with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
I am surprised that so many Christians who are fighting to keep the commandments on the wall are not fighting as hard to have them implemented. It takes a lot of searching to find scriptures which relate to homosexuality and abortion but one can hardly turn a page without reading about how to be a blessing to those in need. Today’s rich young rulers preach about the advantages of usury and exploitation. While they give lip service to moral issues they are preaching from the prophets of the free market. Upon reading about their social views, it seems that Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman are the messianic visionaries who they believe will redeem the world. Self interest and compound interest are the way to salvation according to them. From Friedman, Pastor Ted says he learned that everything, including spirituality, can be understood as a commodity. And unregulated trade, he concluded, was the key to achieving worldly freedom. Is spirituality a commodity to be bought or traded? I thought that God’s love was free and his grace is unmerited favor.
What ever happened to the words and example of Jesus? How can these Christians belong to the CNP and the CFR and secret societies all of which are dedicated to wealth and power. The Christian leaders of today live in multimillion dollar homes, have questionable financial dealings in other countries and extort money from the well meaning people who watch their television programs. They preach the “name it and claim it “gospel of exponential growth and reciprocity to itching ears. They explain to their followers that if they are righteous, God will reward them with riches. Interestingly many gurus of the new age movement also promise wealth and power as evidence that the “Universe” is on their side. Both are proponents of the new religion of privatization.
As a prominent preacher of privatization, William Garvey, stated “non-profit organizations and the private sector might render the cumbersome machinery of representative government obsolete.“ This is what he wrote to Ronald Reagan as he expressed his gratitude for turning the public lands over to ranchers. This letter was published in a media promotion for an international conference on Family choice and Educational vouchers . The speakers for this were all members of the Council of National Policy (CNP) - James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, Phyllis Schlafly and Milton Friedman and then secretary of education William Bennett. The brochure promoted the conference as “Where the Future Begins.“
From many other sources and membership lists it is clear that the neo-Christians who are driving our national policies are championing privatization both here and abroad. These same people are all in lock step with the Zionist movement. They preach that they know the meaning of The Revelation and preach a very literal ideology of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the return of Christ for his church. Current events are slammed into the revelation mosaic often by manipulation. Recently Arthur Blessett, who carried 12 ft cross around the globe has just completed his mission with his last countries being Iraq and North Korea. Upon completion he carved a small cross from it and sent it into space so that one more prophesy can be fulfilled…“and the sign of the son of man shall be over all nations.” (you can go to his website and see when you are under the sign of the cross and read about how he led George Bush to Christ in Midland TX in the 70‘s) Indecently there is not one word about helping the poor or not dropping bombs which kill families, but plenty about a $1000 a plate fundraiser he attended so he could reconnect with George W. Bush.
God will not be mocked! His ways are not our ways! (Isaiah 55:8) we can not manipulate him into returning by fulfilling the prophesies ourselves at the direction of political think tanks. It seems that the free-market Christians are seeking to hire the masons to complete the temple. The bulldozers will crush whomever gets in the way. The water from Babylon will soon be surging through the privatized pipelines through Iran and Syria right into the promised land. The land, the air, the water and the labor will be in the hands of the ruling elite. The rich will determine how much uranium and radiation is enough. The rich will determine how gray the sky can be. The rich will determine who gets water and the rich will be the ones to discover the magical wage which allows for a laborer's maximum productivity just this side of starvation.
Let it not be followers of Christ who usher in these abuses. How far will the charlatans go to deceive. Perhaps they will project a hologram of Christ returning in the clouds to rally the Christian soldiers. Certainly the technology exists. In the last days we are told that many will be deceived. (II Tim. 3:13) There will be signs and wonders and they will do miracles in the name of Christ, but the love of Christ is not in them. I suspect many Christians are being used by the powers and principalities in high places to obtain massive resources for the rulers of an empire. So while the neo-Christians talk about decorations in our courthouses, the sexual identity of cartoon characters, and preach the good news of the free market. Let us pray that Christ will tarry until the church is no longer holding the banner of privatization and riding the beast of the free-market into the New World Order.
Now is the day for repentance.
Karen Horst Cobb wrote No Longer a Christian and No Longer a Christian - Part II published by CommonDreams.org in the fall of 2004. She is a mother and a grandmother, and with God’s grace, tries to follow the example of Christ as she speaks Christ’s message to the world that there is no Government Issue Jesus (GI-Joe Jesus. ) contact: emailto:email@example.com
ARTICLE:Left Behind and Right Ahead
Published on Thursday March 2, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Left Behind and Right Ahead
by Karen Horst Cobb
The four horseman of the apocalypse are fast approaching. Recently I heard a radio interview with Tim LaHaye (one of the authors of the wildly popular Left Behind series - LaHaye & Jenkins ) In their books the authors define details of end times theology which seems to have an influence on many on the Christian Right. Lis Winstead & Rachel Meddow on the Air America radio program Unfiltered, invited Mr. La Haye to present his views and to talk about his popular novels. Although the hosts and the guests hold very differing world views the interview was respectful and informative on both sides. I listened intently since I am trying to be a follower of the teachings of Christ. I want to understand what is happening to the Church today.
One of the things which Mr. LaHaye said sparked my thinking about the characteristics of the long anticipated and prophesied antichrist. LaHaye said that , in his latest book, the nature of the antichrist is further revealed. He explained that he is using the account of the temptations of Christ in the desert as a test which the antichrist fails. He suggested this is a model for how the antichrist makes his motivations clear to the reader by accepting the deals presented by the devil , the deals which Jesus refused. I remember much about this account but as a result of this interesting and insightful criteria for identifying evil in the world I went back and looked at the essence of the test. The account is in Matthew 4 and as I meditate on this passage I also am reminded of Ephesians 6:12 where I read that “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” So I wanted to look again at the temptations Christ faced in the desert so I can understand what contract the powerful “evil -doer “ signs with the devil. When Jesus took this test he was physically at his weakest (as he had not eaten for forty days), he was without human support (alone in the desert) and was vulnerable to the elements (no home or city walls). So, he was hungry, alone, and unprotected. Below are the 3 basic test questions presented to Christ and (according to LaHaye ) the coming or residing evil ruler of the world empire.
Test to Rule the World
1. Will you use your power to get the resources you need to survive even though they are not in your Environment ? The Devil said prove your power by turning stones into bread to save yourself.
2. Will you use your power to protect yourself from painful traumatic death even though you engage in risky behavior ? The Devil said prove your power by jumping off this cliff
3. Will you compromise your dependency on God’s promises and His love in exchange for a chance to rule the world ? The Devil said worship my worldly power and govern an empire.
Of course we know Jesus passed the test with flying colors. His faith in God was greater than his human needs and the love of the living God cast out the fear of his temporary human condition. So, now I can look for clues as to who is a follower of Christ and who is governed by the powers of darkness as I evaluate the current and emerging world powers and apply this test.
It is clear that in the past 2005 years the forces which dominate our planet have not changed at all. Rulers today seek resources which are not in their natural environments to offset their discomfort and to assure their survival instead of trusting in Divine guidance to meet their needs. We know from the example of God’s care for the Israelites wandering in the desert that the living God is capable of serving a feast of manna when bread is not available. Today governments stockpile grain from various locations and divert water to make deserts into fertile fields while their neighbor’s gardens wither in the parching sun. Worldly leaders import the fuel to bake the bread and eke out oil to transport it so they will never experience the discomfort of hunger.
Rulers today travel into unfriendly environments and maintain foreign policies which logically result in their citizens being attacked in retaliation by angry hordes. They seek dangerous powers of weapons of mass destruction and the technology to harness the complicated powers of nature to dominate and control. They strive to show off their superiority. They demonstrate their powers by rising high in sky from the outermost regions of the known universe and desperately seek to go beyond so that the power of mans knowledge can rain down on command to destroy those who stand in the way or threaten their dominance.
The most powerful rulers today appear to have made the deal with the devil to rule the world. There have been discussions across the globe about the need for one world government and the establishment of a global empire. Various leaders utilize the fundamentals of exclusive religious practices to justify theocracies which dominate and control others. They manipulate their populations making it look like they rule with the mantle of God. They all preach the gospel of nationalism and speak of the Motherland, or the Homeland, or the Promised land as well as many other expressions of superiority and separateness. They arrogantly proclaim they are empowered by God Himself to rule the world.
So who will be left behind and what is right ahead? The followers of the example and teachings of Christ may not all agree on end time events. There are those who believe the righteous will be gathered up in the loving arms of the living God before the darkest days and there are those who believe that the righteous will be gathered up after demonstrating Divine love during great suffering and others know that God often uses the simple to confound the wise.
Some remember that the ways of the Divine are far above the ways of man. They remember that a child shall lead them to the peaceful kingdom. As I try to understand the end of time prophesies and to watch for the signs of the closing of this global chapter of eternity, I look to the wisdom of Christ when He was presented with this three questioned test proctored by the destroyer of love. I am determined to be gathered up in the arms of the living God no matter how and when the tribulations come. It seems obvious that it is not the rightness of our logic, or the qualities of our moral values, but the completeness with which we love the living God, our next door neighbors and those around the globe that impacts the world. This is what honors the Creator and His creation. I will remember the temptations of Christ as I hear other people’s ideas about who will be left behind and observe what is right ahead.
Karen Horst Cobb is a writer, artist, and public speaker addressing issues of peace, social Justice and the environment. She has a MA in Counseling and lives in rural New Mexico mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was recently published on the Every Church a Peace Church website.
ARTICLE:Peace On Earth: Cairns of Hope
Published on Thursday, December 23, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
Peace On Earth: Cairns of Hope
by Karen Horst Cobb
Peace on earth. The empty words bounce off department store walls and dribble from mailboxes translating themselves in the lexicon of consumer language as - let’s go shopping. Now more than ever “Peace on earth” ought to be our collective prayer. It is a prayer which crosses all religious, ethnic and social boundaries. Who among us does not desire peace? This seems a rhetorical question but sadly there are those who fear peace and desire war. In the United States we have seen that mammon and the sword are the capital being spent to buy an empire. This is a small powerful minority but, around the globe there is a mighty majority who call for peace. Power and greed fuel war and consumerism distracts from the simple message of “peace on earth .“ How can we humbly unite and stand in solidarity?
Some of us connect on the internet through various forums as the world wide web links us and allows us to understand how similar we are. All of us value our families, our traditions, our landscapes, and our understanding of the Creator. Mothers stay up at night nursing their ailing children, fathers are concerned for the safety of their families, children are learning to walk and talk and become members of their communities. We laugh, we cry, we pray, we dance, we bury our dead and we seek peace on earth. So how can we come together across the globe to publicly proclaim our desire for peace? We need a way to identify ourselves to one another, a way that transcends our differences , a movement that does not rely on media or politics and can not be bought or manipulated. A movement of simple people with a common goal of living daily in support of peace.
Historically symbols have been used to transcend language and culture and to communicate volumes with one simple icon. There is the crescent, the cross, the vine, and various animal images each representing a reality. There are the modern universal symbols we find at airports and other public facilities . We have icons which show our support for a myriad causes. We have yellow ribbons, pink ribbons, rainbows, lapel pins and an endless list of other shorthand ways of identifying ourselves and our allegiances. What people of peace lack is an icon of identity. The best we have is the symbol of the dove and the olive branch but because it has been in the popular culture for so long and has religious significance its use may be problematic. Global citizens of peace need a fresh symbol. I propose we adopt a universal symbol which will transcend our various flags and religious symbols which have been used to separate us from one another. The simple cairn is an icon I am proposing. A way marker on the path of peace.
A cairn is constructed by stacking one rock upon another to mark a path which has become lost due to lack of traffic. Although cairns appear on every continent I am most familiar with the Gaelic form . I have often hiked high in the mountains and have come to a place where the path is unclear since it is traveled so seldom or where there is such aggressive vegetation that it has become overgrown. I glance ahead a little in one direction and see a cairn constructed by a fellow traveler on this path and know my next steps will lead me to the overlook where I can see where I have been and where I am going. The infrequency with which humanity travels the path of peace has caused this path to be obscured from view. We have become reliant on language and sadly language is limiting and can be divisive . Truth communicated through an icon can transcend these misunderstandings. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words and that it’s meaning is more clear. This is the communication we need as a diverse community of people of peace. The prophets have served as living cairns to us all and we likewise can be living cairns to one another. We can symbolize this commitment to the path of peace by constructing cairns near our homes.
Waymarkers are present in societies around the globe from the native peoples of Northern Canada, the high Himalayas. and in the Middle East. They are referred to in ancient texts and we continue to marvel at the Stonehenge mysteries. The stone marker is a symbol written on our hearts and deep within the collective consciousness. Rocks are plentiful in almost all locations and remind us of the ancient dust from which we came. The humble cairn can be a marker, an identifier, a reassurance along the path of peace. We, carbon based forms, are entrusted with the care and nurturance of the beautiful creation.
So may I humbly purpose that we profess our prayer for peace and our commitment to making it a reality by building cairns by our mailboxes, our walkways, or our front doors and that these cairns come to be the universal symbols of havens of peace along life’s path. As we travel we can find one another and share the vision of a kingdom which transcends our religious and political boundaries. In our own communities these cairns can help us identify and unite with those who are working for peace and as we travel we can find our common family. Perhaps one day the internet will not be available to us and each of us have only a few addresses and telephone numbers by which we can connect but rocks will always be plentiful and cairns simple to construct. They can serve as silent witnesses at sites throughout the world where war is waged, planned for, or celebrated. As the army of peace, we can make our universal mark on the earth and construct humble markers on the humble path. There is no need for expensive monuments or edifices as the simple continues to confound the wise.
This is just a simple proposal but it may help us to become a community. May the hollow consumer driven sound of “peace on earth” be transformed this season to a reverberating echo around the globe as we transcend theologies, doctrines, national identities and proclaim our commitment to peace in our homes, our communities our nations and our universe- Peace on earth witnessed by cairns of hope.
Karen Horst Cobb is a writer and artist and has contributed to Common Dreams with her articles No longer a Christian (Parts I and II.) This article is a continuation of part II in answer to the question, where do we go from here? She can be contacted at email@example.com
ARTCLE: No Longer a Christian:Part II
Published Tuesday, November 30, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
No Longer a Christian - Part II
by Karen Horst Cobb
Follow up from an article published October 25, 2004
For over a month my inbox has been filled with responses to my original article "No Longer a Christian." The total of emails is well over 2550. I have read them all and have responded to those with questions, or who wanted permission to reprint. The article has become part of some college curricula in the US and in Europe. It has been taped to refrigerators, copied and saved to give to grandchildren, sent to right wing relatives, placed on car windshields, posted on numerous sites, discussed in blogs, and read and preached from pulpits.
The backlash is also evident. I've been called a communist, a Marxist, a humanist, and a baby killer. I have been accused as one who has never attended church, never was born again, has no knowledge of the Bible, is naive, idealistic, immature and hateful. The most amazing of all was the person who responded saying that the leaders of his denomination say that Karen Horst Cobb does not exist and is merely an urban legend. Imagine my surprise.
The majority view my words in the spirit they were written, (a mixture of “love and sorrow”), and then others reading the same words reference my “hate filled rhetoric and judgmental attitude.” The condition of the heart interprets what we see and hear. This is why the scriptures say “Those who have ears to hear let them hear. ” We are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The majority of the responses were words of gratitude for having expressed what they had wanted to say or have been saying. There were also those who supported much of what I said but had specific questions concerning war. The article appeared on some Muslim websites and Muslims in the US, the Middle East and other countries commended me for speaking peace and recognized the creator in my words. The last category of responses is something that can only be identified as christian hate mail.
I am humbled beyond comparison and honored to give voice to the heartfelt cries of at over 2500 people who responded positively to the message I gave. There is a great movement that is forming behind the scenes, and the results can be a resurrection of the simple message of Christ that extends to all people. We can live and speak the message of love. We can proclaim publicly the morality of social justice, thoughtful environmental practices, racial equality, and economic justice. One can not be a Christian and worship mammon and the sword. It is Christ’s grace that allows us to extend that grace to others as humble servants. Jesus explained that where two or more agree, our humble prayers will be answered (Matt. 18:19) Many of us are in agreement concerning the misuse of Christ’s message in the world today. As we simply make our request to him we can know that our prayers are heard if they are with the sincerity of a child . It is the heart of the child who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt: 18:2)
The second category of responses are those who agree with much of what I wrote but had questions which they could not reconcile. Many asked “But what about Hitler?” or “What if someone breaks into my home?” They mention the teachings of theologians who support violence. It is true that Hitler was an evil man who did evil things. The larger view of that situation is that if all the good people of his time had refused to give way to fear and had refused to believe that communists bombed the Reichstag or resisted the lies presented about their own Jewish neighbors, then Hitler could never have come to power. He would have been marginalized and scorned rather than looked to as their savior. Giving way to fear always leads to violence and oppression. When people keep their eyes on Christ and continue to follow His example they will not be so easily lead astray by political powers. St Augustine’s Just War Theory, Francis Shaffer’s recommendations of how we should live, and the modern day televangelist’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation are not my final authority. My authority is the example of Christ. The message is simple and His communication clear.
Many present the idea that those who believe in non-violence need the violent to protect them. I want to be very clear that I will never expect someone to kill or die for me. Some have suggested that the pacifist stance is helplessness, but pacifism is powerful, brave and just. Some make the mistake of thinking that one can only be a victim or a perpetrator. The reality is there are always many options in any situation. As a crisis therapist I have seen how force escalates violence whereas a calm presence addressing fear brings almost instant calm. I have had many life experiences where pacifism has been tested and it has never failed. In the end I would want my last act on earth to be an act of love and forgiveness (if God grants me that grace) rather than an act of violence.
Many question the right to defend themselves and their familes using violence and force. Each of us must answer that question for ourselves, and in the end must know that God’s grace is sufficient to heal and restore one in such a situation. This is a different thing than killing the innocent of another land because of a fear of what some of their fellow countryman might do in the future. Many have mentioned Jesus’ act of throwing the money changers out of the temple as a way to justify war. This can much better demonstrate the anger God has when money and power corrupt His message, and it is this same message that motivates me to speak His truth in a sea of deceit. Some of those who responded referred to the Old Testament accounts of battles as justification for the current war. This is a difference of theology. I believe the old Testament is a Divine history book showing how incapable humans are at keeping the law and living free of guilt. It also shows the linage of Christ (and also Mohammad Gen: 17:20). The New Testament presents itself in a better way. It is here that Jesus is the sacrifice once and for all. Humans are incapable of following all the laws. Human nature usurps authority while lording it over others with excessive man made laws. Jesus said the ten commandments can be summed up very simply: Love your neighbor as your self. (Galatians 5:14). Christ is the fulfillment of the law. The point was that the law said “an eye for an eye” but Jesus presented a better plan-- Love.
The third group of responses were from Muslims. One person said that they were living in a country where they were taught both the Christian faith and the Muslim faith. They chose to become Muslim because they understood it to be a message of peace but now they are in the Middle East and see beheadings on the nightly news. They see the destruction of the US bombing knowing that those in power are “christian”. In agony, this person asked me, “Where should I go for help, dear sister?" Other Muslims have said that the same article could be written about the evil that is done in the name of Allah. It is safe to say that in every culture there are leaders who seek to divide humanity for the purposes of money and power. The sincere follower of the prophet can gradually begin to believe in a justification that twists His teachings. It is interesting that those who keep their eyes on His example do not engage in violence against the innocent no matter what justification is given. The true message of Christ unites, but the false message of those who claim His name divides and destroys. It has become clear to me from the many responses from Muslims that this is also true of the prophet Mohommad. He teaches love and peace and denounces the killing of the innocent. It is the powers and principalities which seek to destroy.
The final group of responses are from people that are sure I missed the mark.. Some showed general concern for my soul but made many wrong assumptions about what I said rather than actually reading my words. I am born again. I am saved by grace through faith and the good deeds I might do in this life are not anything for me to boast about . I have not renounced Christ but the false religion of media christianity. There were several fine examples of christian hate mail which referred to my head being “chopped off” and making the clear statement that I do not have to worry because I am not a christian of any sort because I am a liberal and I will burn in hell where I belong. To the leader of the denomination who is saying that I do not exist, I want to say that the reports of my non-existence have been highly exaggerated and I will gladly accept his apology for bearing false witness against me if he chooses to do so. Some have mentioned that clearly I am quite young and idealistic, have not read my Bible, never belonged to a church, and am a “yellow dog democrat” So let me set the record straight: I am a grandmother. My beliefs have been well tested in life. I have read the Bible several times cover to cover, was a member of a church for 40 years, and for much of my life was a registered Republican. Some have suggested I am uninformed and have not studied the scriptures or read the works of various theologians. The truth is I have several letters after my name and have read more than most in the areas of Christian theology, philosophy, and ethics, but none of these facts have added to the very clear admonition of Christ to Love and shine His light in the darkness. To borrow from another writer, "Everything I needed to know I learned in Sunday School."
So the final question is "Where do we go from here?" I am now aware that there are many like me who have left the church or who have been asked to leave due to religious/political views that are in opposition to the “christian right” and government policies. For those who remain in the church, I urge you to continue to speak out against the false christianity which is seeping beneath the doors and sliding over the airwaves. Many have mentioned the desire to have a spiritual leader like Martin Luther King, Jr. However, the times we are living in might call for a different form of leadership. A figurehead or public voice can be easily silenced and an organization can be infiltrated and corrupted. I did receive several responses from people who desired to co-opt my message for their own purposes. I am sure that a public movement would be targeted. The tactics to which some of these people will go are surprising . A popular "christian" religious radio personality responded to me pretending to be a woman, but when I replied to what I thought was a woman’s a sincere question, the “undelivered mail “ message on my computer showed his real name and e-mail address. He is one of the main media personalities I was thinking of in the original article, and evidently he recognized himself in that first paragraph. We are dealing with many public personalities who call themselves Christian but will not hesitate to deceive. I was reminded by one reader that the wolves don’t even bother with sheep’s clothing anymore. In this case the sheep suit was at least partially in place but not well zipped.
So where do we go from here? We need a spiritual movement addressing the largest of moral issues. A spiritual movement of individuals living in community can not be stopped. Hierarchical groups can be manipulated and changed to do the bidding of the powerful, but the diffused power of a people committed to peace will be a sweet smelling gift pleasing to God. Just as there were house parties, and grass roots efforts on the political front I suggest that each person invite others to their home to meet this spiritual disenfranchisement or find un-compromised churches in their communities. My prayer is that those of faith would flee the churches that do not preach love. The Church is not a building; it is in the hearts of believers. Some suggest that liberal Christians should take to the airwaves in a battle of theology, and perhaps there are those who are being raised up for that purpose. Let us not, however, be scheming and plotting, but let us just boldly proclaim the truth in love. It is in this way we can address the individual needs of our communities and can encourage one another to follow the radical message of Christ. It is in a community such as this that we can find the power to resist the excesses of consumerism, gluttony, and personal gain that comes at the expense of others and our environment.
We can reclaim the message of Christ and show His face to the world. In this way we can gain strength and courage from one another and face what lies ahead. We are sure that there will be wars and rumors of wars, and we know that this is more true now than ever before. If the media Christians are the supporters of these wars then it will be more and more important that the true church of Christ’s love support, encourage, and enrich our spiritual understanding. The simple fact is that when it is darkest the light shines brightest. This can be our comfort. Let our homes be a haven of peace in this warring world.
Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise a serpents and harmless as doves. (Matt. 10:16 .) This verse is good to remember as we continue to reclaim the meaning of the life of Christ. The simple truth exists: Perfect love casts out fear.
Karen Horst Cobb is a freelance writer and artist and can be contacted at Cairnhcobb@msn.com.
ARTCLE:No Longer a Christian
Published on Monday, October 25, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
No Longer a Christian
by Karen Horst Cobb
I was told in Sunday school the word "Christian" means to be Christ-like, but the message I hear daily on the airwaves from the “christian ” media are words of war, violence, and aggression. Throughout this article I will spell Christian with a small c rather than a capital, since the term (as I usually hear it thrown about) does not refer to the teachings of the one I know as the Christ. I hear church goers call in to radio programs and explain that it was a mistake not to kill every living thing in Fallujah. They quote chapter and verse from the old testament about smiting the enemies of Israel. The fear of fighting the terrorists on our soil rather than across the globe causes the voices to be raised as they justify the latest prison scandal or other accounts of the horrors of war . The words they speak are words of destruction, aggression, dominance, revenge, fear and arrogance. The host and the callers echo the belief in the righteousness of our nation's killing. There are reminders to pray for our “Christian” president who is doing the work of the Lord: Right to Life, Second Amendment, sanctity of marriage, welfare reform, war, kill, evil liberals. . . so much to fight, so much to destroy.
Let me tell you about the Christ I know. He was conceived by an unmarried woman. He was not born into a family of privilege. He was a radical. He said, “It was said an eye for and eye and a tooth of a tooth, but now I say love your enemies and bless those who curse you.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5: 3-9) He said, “All those who are called by my name will enter the kingdom of heaven." He said, "People will know true believers if they have the fruit of the spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control.“
He knew he would be led like a sheep to the slaughter. He responded with “Father forgive them.“ He explained that in Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile, slave or free male nor female. He explained that even to be angry is akin to murder. He said the temple of God is not a building, but is in the hearts of those are called by his name. He was called "the Prince of Peace." His final days were spent in prayer, so that he could endure what was set before him, not on how he could overpower the evil government of that day. When they came for him he was led away and didn’t resist his death sentence.
This is a stark contrast to the call of the religious Christian right, who vote for war and weapons, and suggest towns and villages be leveled to bring freedom and peace to the people. They proudly boast this country’s superiority, suggesting God has blessed our nation. Today, as I listened to a popular Christian news network, I was reminded that in the last days, even God’s elect will be deceived, (II Timothy 3:13). When the religious media moguls preaching prosperity spout their rhetoric, I am reminded of the difficulty Jesus described of a rich man’s ability to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19: 24) (http://www.4religious-right.info/rr_economics.htm) Some who believe they are fighting evil will cry to the Lord, and he will say “I never knew you.“ (Matthew 22). They will have a form or godliness but will deny the power (II Timothy 3:5) to move mountains through prayer. (Matthew 17:20). Jesus explained that he has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:17) I wonder if the innocent moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas who were the victims of US military weapons (the never reported collateral damages we are protected from in the “liberal” nightly news) felt the love of Jesus with the shock and awe. I wonder if the surviving family members now understand His radical love and that they no longer have any need for weapons or defense.
The solutions to the social issues used to manipulate good, decent people have no resemblance to how Jesus responded to the social concerns of his time. He never once mentioned the “right to life” the year he was born King Herod ordered the execution of all babies. (Matthew 2:16). He knew that passing laws does not change the heart. As a follower of his teaching I believe in the right to life, including the children in Iraq who stumble onto land mines, cross the street at the wrong time, or who are snugly tucked within the warm bellies of their wounded or grieving mothers as US fighter jets fly overhead. These are living, breathing children. The killing of these little ones are never even reported, and our tax dollars pay for these bombs. I believe in the right to life for those in the United States who are unwanted and impoverished. I believe in the right to life of the naive kid who was promised by the recruiter they could choose a desk job and still get their education paid or could see the world or could accelerate their life or could play a very realistic video game from a cockpit.
I've worked at a shelter, and I know first hand the reality of unwanted children. I know the reality of this right wing rhetoric when week after week I begged and pleaded with people to give up only one night every three months to sit with these unwanted living children for a few hours while the overworked house parents had a night off. Of the few I found, many changed their minds when they discovered that they would need to wear rubber gloves to change the babies diapers. These “believers” stand on the street corners holding right to life signs and then vote against medical assistance for the mothers and their unwanted children creating an impossible existence for them. The few of these abortion activists who might adopt some of these unwanted children generally want the white and the healthy. The ones with hydrocephalous, tracheotomies, emotional/ mental problems and communicable diseases along with their life long medical expenses can be someone else’s problems.
I cringe as many christians vote for policies that deny help to the poor in our own county, who vote to support the war and military strength, assuring the latest weapons are developed and that the heavens will be dominated by the military of the United States. We develop electromagnetic weapons to shatter skulls , split the earth (http://www.raven1.net/emr13.htm) and silently destroy a body as a thief in the night. Studies are even now searching for the frequencies to override the freewill. These unbelievable technologies are a reality and DNA specific weapons can or soon will target a specific nationality (http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/981116/1998111619.html ).I weep as the waters Jesus walked on become contaminated with uranium. (http://www.greendove.net/resources3.htm) I grieve as the missiles fly through the atmosphere on the continent where Jesus rose into the sky, defying death and the grave and where the Holy Sprit first descended. I cry out at the horrors of war and the indignity of the prisons so close to where He took captivity captive. So I am no longer a Christian if Christianity has become what is presented to us by our Christian president and Christian media. I cannot support the right of the United States and Israel to develop and use the most heinous weapons ever imagined. I want no part of a temple built on the blood of the innocent. The sheep have been lead astray by the teachings of prosperity and misinterpretation of the final battle between good and evil. Many no longer can recognize the voice of the good Shepherd.
Some “good Christians” even work at weapons facilities. It is not a stretch to say that a woman who tightens a last rivet on a shiny new missile just off the assembly line might be the same woman who licks the gold star on the attendance chart in morning Sunday school. The missile could be launched by the kid in the youth group who reads the invocation and it will find it’s destiny at a “target of interest” which might or might not have been a result of good intelligence. The collection plate circulates children are taught to love their enemies and bless those who curse them.
The statements and lifestyle of Jesus are difficult for me to understand. What would he say to evil dictators? This God would not justify 15,000 or more deaths. Even the wrathful jealous God of the old testament spared whole cities for a few righteous souls. For Christians, to support mass killings as a way to prevent future deaths is not at all like Christ. He would not say,"When I am talking about war I am really talking about peace," like the self professed Christian President proudly states. Who but God has the right to determine what price a people should pay for their freedom? The religious leaders on the airwaves today respond to the voices of the few brave peacemakers who dare to speak out. They say that pacifism is insane, and that it doesn’t make sense, but what is forgotten is that logic and faith are separate entities. I believe in the example of Jesus and his admonition to love your enemies and bless those who curse you . Do I understand how this works on the global scale? Do I know what Jesus would say to all the world’s leaders? No, nor do I totally understand how the example of Christ’s life and his message of love works in the world today. That’s why I need faith. Am I always correct in my assessments and actions? No, that’s why I need grace. Am I brave and unafraid? No, that’s why I need the perfect love that casts out fear. Some put trust in Chariots and some in horses but I will remember the name of the lord our God--the Prince of Peace. Perhaps politics has no place for imitators of Christ.
Who will show the face of Christ to the world? Who will speak His radical message? I hear from these so called imitators of Christ that the pacifists are a collection of kids, hippies, socialists and communists who haven’t got a clue. Some of us, however, have come to our beliefs as a result of careful and prayerful study of the scriptures and admonishment from our elders. Many are Mennonite, Amish, Quaker and other Anabaptists, whose ancestors did not resist their torturers and were drowned, burnt at the stake and flogged for their pacifist stand. They truly followed the example of Christ, and their resistance against the catastrophic effects of the merging of church and state cost them a great price. Churches today have signed onto the government plan and have agreed to look the other way in exchange for tax free privileges. The true message of Christ still exists to some degree in the quiet of the land to peacemakers, but sadly these good people have been deceived by the angry words from a righteous sounding religious media majority broadcasting in cars and trucks and tractors all over our land ironically preaching the “good news of war for peace“ and convincing 24-7 “liberal“ bashing. I suspect there are many who share my sorrow at the loss of what it means to be Christ-like, but our voice is seldom heard. The blaring rhetoric drowns out the still small voice of the mighty God. Peace used be the opposite of war, Conservative used to mean the tendency to conserve resources. Liberal used to mean kind and generous, and Christian used to mean like Christ.
So I am no longer a Christian but just a person who continues trying to follow the example of Christ. I’ll let him call me what he wants when I see him face to face. Until then, I will pray that someday people like me will be able to reclaim the meaning of Christ’s identity, and the world will see the effects of the radical message of Christ‘s love--the perfect love that casts out fear.
Karen Cobb is a freelance writer and artist in Santa Fe, NM and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.