Saturday, October 27, 2007

Conservatism is a Tower of Babel

By Patrick J. Buchanan

"I was conservative yesterday, I'm a conservative today, and I will be a conservative tomorrow," declared Fred Thompson to the Conservative Party of New York, billing himself as the "consistent conservative" in the GOP race – in contrast to ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In his defense, Rudy cites George Will as calling his eight years in office in the Big Apple the most conservative city government in 50 years.

And, truth be told, Thompson was reliably conservative in his Senate years. But so, too, has John McCain been, and Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. Hunter, however, splits with Thompson and McCain on trade. Paul disagrees with all six of them on the war. And Tancredo assails McCain for backing Bush's amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens.

Will the real conservative please stand up? Or perhaps we should recall John 14:2, "In my father's house there are many mansions."

What does it mean to be a conservative – in 2007?

Sixty years ago, Robert A. Taft was the gold standard. Forty years ago, it was Barry Goldwater, who backed Bob Taft against Ike at the 1952 convention. Twenty years ago, it was Ronald Reagan, who backed Barry in 1964. Reagan remains the paragon – for the consistency of his convictions, the success of his presidency and the character he exhibited to the end of his life. About Reagan the cliché was true: The greatness of the office found out the greatness in the man.

Reagan defined conservatism for his time. And the issues upon which we agreed were anti-communism, a national defense second to none, lower tax rates to unleash the engines of economic progress, fiscal responsibility, a strict-constructionist Supreme Court, law and order, the right-to-life from conception on and a resolute defense of family values under assault from the cultural revolution that hit America with hurricane force in the 1960s.

With the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the breakup of the Soviet Union, anti-communism as the defining and unifying issue of the right was gone. The conservative crack-up commenced.

With George H.W. Bush came the advent of what Fred Barnes of the New Republic hailed as Big Government Conservatism. Some thought the phrase oxymoronic. But when Bush stood at the rostrum of the U.N. General Assembly in October 1991 to declare that America's cause was the creation of a New World Order, the old right reached reflexively for their revolvers.

In 1992, with foreign policy off the table, the Bush economic record a perceived failure and Ross Perot running on protectionism and populism, Bush refused to play his trump card with the Clintons: the social and moral issues he and Lee Atwater had use to beat Michael Dukakis senseless in 1988. And so, George H.W. Bush lost the presidency.

Now, 15 years later, what does it mean to be a conservative?

There is no pope who speaks ex cathedra. There is no bible to consult, like Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" or Reagan's "no-pale-pastels" platform of 1980. At San Diego in 1996, Bob Dole told his convention he had not bothered to read the platform. Many who heard him did not bother to vote for Bob Dole.

And so, today, the once-great house of conservatism is a Tower of Babel. We are big government and small government, traditionalist and libertarian, tax-cutter and budget hawk, free trader and economic nationalist. Bush and McCain support amnesty and a "path to citizenship" for illegals. The country wants the laws enforced and a fence on the border.

And Rudy? A McGovernite in 1972, he boasted in the campaign of 1993 that he would "rekindle the Rockefeller, Javits, Lefkowitz tradition" of New York's GOP and "produce the kind of change New York City saw with ... John Lindsay." He ran on the Liberal Party line and supported Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Pro-abortion, anti-gun, again and again he strutted up Fifth Avenue in the June Gay Pride parade and turned the Big Apple into a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. While Ward Connerly goes state to state to end reverse discrimination, Rudy is an affirmative-action man.

Gravitating now to Rudy's camp are those inveterate opportunists, the neocons, who see in Giuliani their last hope of redemption for their cakewalk war and their best hope for a "Long War" against "Islamo-fascism."

I will, Rudy promises, nominate Scalias. Only one more may be needed to overturn Roe. And I will keep Hillary out of the White House.

A Giuliani presidency would represent the return and final triumph of the Republicanism that conservatives went into politics to purge from power. A Giuliani presidency would represent repudiation by the party of the moral, social and cultural content that, with anti-communism, once separated it from liberal Democrats and defined it as an institution.

Rudy offers the Right the ultimate Faustian bargain: retention of power at the price of one's soul.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The True Cost Of The Global Warming Farce

By Sen. Tom McClintock
California State Senate

The following is an excerpt from a speech that was delivered to the Western Conservative Political Action Conference on October 12, 2007 in Newport Beach, Calif.

Last year, in the name of saving the planet from global warming, California adopted the most radically restrictive legislation anywhere in the nation, including Assembly Bill 32, which requires a 25 percent reduction in man-made carbon dioxide emissions within 13 years.

To put this in perspective, we could junk every car in the state of California RIGHT NOW – and not meet this mandate.

Californians just approved $40 billion of bonds that California’s political leaders promised would be used for highways, dams, aqueducts and other capital improvements. They are desperately needed.

But at the same time, those same political leaders have imposed a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Now here’s the problem. Building highways, dams and aqueducts requires tremendous amounts of concrete, the principle ingredient of which is cement.

How is cement produced? It is produced by taking limestone and super-heating it into a molten state – it comes out the other side as a compound called clinker. Clinker is about 2/3 the weight of the original limestone. The missing 1/3 of that weight is carbon dioxide. And when you include the emissions required to superheat the limestone, it turns out that for every ton of cement, a TON of carbon dioxide is released. It’s the third biggest source of carbon dioxide in all human enterprise.

But now we have a law that specifically forbids us from doing so. That was the essence of the Jerry Brown lawsuits against new highway projects that were part of the summer budget impasse.

Citing AB 32, Brown argued that unless the counties could show how they would build highways without using earthmoving equipment or concrete – and that once built, that people would not drive automobiles on them – the only legal use of the funds would be to promote mass transit, transit villages – and I’m not making this up – pedestrian trails and bicycle paths.

So much for construction.

Agriculture is in big trouble, too.

You can start with nitrogen fertilizer, which is a critical component of all agricultural activity. Unfortunately, it produces large amounts of nitrous oxide, another so-called greenhouse gas that must be radically curtailed in California.

The wine industry is also in for a shock. Fermentation of wine occurs when a molecule of glucose in the grapes is converted into EQUAL PARTS of alcohol and Carbon Dioxide.

But the biggest agricultural impact is the administration’s mandate for heavily subsidized use of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is produced in exactly the same way as the alcohol in wine: the glucose in corn is converted into equal parts of ethyl alcohol and CARBON DIXOIDE.

Following AB 32, the governor’s appointees on the California Air Resources Board imposed a requirement that ALL gasoline sold in California within THREE YEARS, must be comprised of at least TEN PERCENT ethanol, doubling the current mandate.

Now think about this: an acre of corn produces about 350 gallons of ethanol. There are 15 billion gallons of gasoline used in California each year. In order to meet the ten percent requirement in three years, it means converting 4.3 million acres of farmland to ethanol production. Now that’s a lot of farmland, considering that we have a total of 11 million acres producing any kind of crops.

Current ethanol mandates are already producing serious shortages in other parts of the world, as farmland that had been producing food shifts to ethanol to chase hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies coming out of your pocket. There were riots in Mexico earlier this year in response to spiraling tortilla prices.

And we’re seeing this across the board – including commodities like milk and beef that are responding to increased prices for corn feed. And as you see your grocery prices rise as a result of this policy, just be glad you’re not in the Third World. Food is a relatively small portion of the family incomes in affluent nations, but they consume more than half of family earnings in third world countries.

So when the global warming alarmists predict worldwide starvation, they’re right. They’re creating it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

In Praise of Xenophobia

By Garry J. Moes

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation...." — Abraham Lincoln

Though not often the focus of analyses of the Gettysburg Address, those last three words — "a new nation" — have significance. They signify, that is, that America, upon its founding, was something innovative and unique in the history of nations. It had from the outset, as Alexander Hamilton noted, a particular "national spirit and a national character" — a complexion so vastly worth having that virtually any sacrifice could be afforded for its development and preservation.

This fact is rapidly being driven to the nether lands of our present national consciousness as our cultural elite vigorously propound a philosophy of multiculturalism and contend for policies of borderlessness and unconditional immigration. The multicultural ethos urges us to unreservedly embrace all traditions, value systems, and world views and the sojourners who come here while steadfastly maintaining their former civic spirit and character. Those who seek to advance this ethos are fond of citing parts of the inscription on the tablet of the Statue of Liberty ("Give me your ... huddled masses...) as if it were an utterly open invitation to all comers without restriction, ignoring that this inscription, when read in its entirety and intended context, is an invitation to absorption into the considered liberties of that unique American system alluded to by Hamilton and others of our Founding Fathers. Rather then extending an unconditional embrace to immigrants who desire to maintain a native disposition alien to the American spirit and character, our approach should be to embrace the notion once put forth by American social philosopher Eric Hoffer when he argued, "America needs new immigrants to love and cherish it" (The New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1971, p. 25).

Theodore Roosevelt proffered that "Every man has a right to one country." Note carefully: a right to "one country."

"He has a right to love and serve that country and to feel that it is absolutely his country and that he has in it every right possessed by anyone else," Roosevelt said in 1918 during the closing months of America’s war with the German-led Axis Powers (Kansas City Star, July 15, p. 2). "It is our duty to require the man of German blood who is an American citizen to give up all allegiance to Germany wholeheartedly and without on his part any mental reservation whatever. If he does that it becomes no less our duty to give him the full rights of an American, including our loyal respect and friendship without on our part any mental reservation whatever. The duties are reciprocal, and from the standpoint of American patriotism one is as important as the other."

George Washington put it another way when he said, "The bosom of America is open to receive [all], whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and previleges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment" (emphasis added).

In 1802, Hamilton wrote: "The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family" (quoted by Michelle Malkin, "The Importance of Assimilation," The Washington Times, July 9, 2007).

Hamilton also warned that "The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader. ... To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens the moment they put foot in our country would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty." (ibid.)

What then is the "common national sentiment," the "uniformity of principles and habits," the "national spirit and national character," that constitute the uniquely American world view from which our culture grew?

"The study of the historical development of civilization and culture is a study of world view," writes Jay Rogers ("Whatever Happened to Western Civilization," The Forerunner). "World view is defined as the basic presuppositions of a people in a given society; how they look at life; and the basic truths which form their values and beliefs. When we look at any civilization or culture, it is as though we are looking at a vast tapestry made up of many intertwining threads. The picture formed by this tapestry symbolizes the world view of that civilization's culture."

Today’s multiculturalist and xenophoric "Americans" deny that there is such a thing as a uniquely American world view or at least that there should be such a thing. Yet their unflagging exertions to destroy the "citadel of our liberty and sovereignty" only prove that it exists or once did.

The American cultural ideal has some roots, of course, in the broader category we call "Western civilization."

"The campaign against Western culture — sometimes called multiculturalism — is not simply a call for equal time for other cultures that make up the world," says Rogers. "Clearly this would be a noble cause. Yet more often than not the champions of multiculturalism promote an accompanying disdain for the values and beliefs that have sustained Western culture. Nobody knows for sure exactly what these people are so angry about. And even more baffling to the casual observer, there seems to be no certain agenda for reform except a destructive nihilism.

"But let us propose that behind the diatribe against Western culture is an attack on the religious faith that has characterized the West. Indeed the basic theme of multiculturalism is as much anti-Christian as anti-Western. At the root of the attack on Western civilization in America is a more subtle attempt to discredit Christianity."

But Western civilization is itself somewhat of a paradoxical amalgam, assimilating some of the ancient Greco-Roman world view along with the Judeo-Christian world view. These two systems were in many respects fundamentally at odds with each other, especially at their religious cores.

The American system, though it developed in the context of broader Western system, found its fundamental character in the Protestant Reformation, particularly in the understandings of the Calvinist Puritans and Scottish Covenantal Presbyterians, such as John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence whose sermons and writings were perhaps the leading doctrinal inspiration for the Revolution. There can be no doubt that proponents of the humanist Enlightenment sought to contribute their comprehensions to the development of the American system, but the foundations and most of the superstructure of the emerging American polity reflected the Presbyterian paradigm. Calvinist models are credited with playing a a role in shaping the American political structure with its recognition of basic human depravity, its consequent system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and constitutional limits to authority.

Growing out of Luther’s discovery of the doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers," the Puritan civil polity, which gave the world its first representative, parliamentary democracy, saw that human governing authority comes from God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ (who was given "all authority in heaven and on earth by reason of His obedience to the Father’s redemptive plan), directly to the federal head of each human family. There was no divine right of kings to rule, and there was no sacerdotal priest to intervene as a mediary in the rule of men, but God’s authority (His law) was to be exercised on earth by patriarchal individuals at the foundational level of society. Families thus governed formed the local community, and communities combined to form the whole society, the greater society being governed by representatives of the decentralized community of families. In short, those who govern do so by consent of the governed who, in turn, get their authority as an endowment by their Creator, to whom all authorities owe their allegiance and gratitude. This concept was a death blow to top-down authoritarianism, despotism and hierarchical priestly rule, all of which were anathema to the society sired by the American Revolution.

While it would take volumes to fully describe the comprehensive nature of the American system, this fundamental element is clearly at odds with virtually all competing world views. Thus any ascendency of those competing world views in America would constitute catastrophic trauma to the system which has produced the world’s and history’s most successful, productive and highly sought society.

It would also take volumes to compare this system with all other competing systems, but we must at least briefly consider two of its strongest contemporary competitors: Islamism and the Latino world view.

We hardly need to discuss how radically disparate Islamism is from the American set of ideals and common governing principles. There could hardly be two more divergent world views, and it should be abundantly clear that Islamism is a potentially fatal threat to all that our American civilization stands upon and for. For this reason, it must be resisted at all costs, save the sacrifice of our system itself. We must pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to prevent its ascendancy in our country and its dominance in our world.

The world view of the historically militant and imperialistic version of Islam is universalist and borderless, envisioning a worldwide House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) governed by the revealed law of Allah and demanding pandemic submission to its demands and principles, with death to all who resist.

Islamic scholar Mohammed Salam Madkoar notes that "Islamic Law is very different from English Common Law or the European Civil Law traditions."

"To understand Islamic Law one must first understand the assumptions of Islam and the basic tenets of the religion," Madkoar says. "The meaning of the word Islam is ‘submission or surrender to Allah's (God's) will.’ Therefore, Muslims must first and foremost obey and submit to Allah's will.... The most difficult part of Islamic Law for most westerners to grasp is that there is no separation of church and state. The religion of Islam and the government are one. Islamic Law is controlled, ruled, and regulated by the Islamic religion. The theocracy controls all public and private matters. Government, law, and religion are one. There are varying degrees of this concept in many nations, but all law, government and civil authority rests upon it and it is a part of Islamic religion."

Though less dire in its consequences than Islam, the world view of Latin America is also problematic as its influence spreads through North American culture. Again, as always, this world view has its basis in religion, and at its heart is the concept of sacerdotalism, a doctrine basic to the Roman Catholicism which has molded Latin American culture. "Sacerdotalism is the establishment of a rigid hierarchy that separates man from God, the interjection of a ‘priestly’ class between man and God, through whom the ‘layman’ must go to reach God" (William A. Simpson). Carlyle viewed this doctrine as the polar opposite of Puritanism.

A sacerdotal mindset gives rise to a polity in which a hierarchical government is the foundation of society. It is predisposed to the maternalism of the socialist state. "In Latin America, the female runs the household. She educates the children and manages the finances. As a result, the Latin American family is matriarchal. Whereas the father is distant, the mother is ‘linked with love and proximity’ and has a greater influence on the children" (One Hundred Years of Solitude/Cien Anos de Soledad : The Buendía Family).

This foundational aspect of Latin American culture has vast implications for change as its influence spreads throughout traditional North American culture. It is a foreign element which can elementally altar this nation. We could go on to discuss the vast differences in historical experience, linguistic understanding, and institutional memories of Latin America and the United States.

Without going into further comparative detail, let it suffice to say that if we are to preserve our admirable character as an American nation and culture, we must be vigilant in examining the influences and impulses which may be anathema to our common spirit. For this reason, we may rightly be xenophobic. We must hasten to say that we do not fear foreigners per se. Indeed, we may welcome foreigners who yearn to embrace our founding principles and contribute their own hues to our already colorful national complexion — those immigrants who, in Eric Hoffer’s words, will "love and cherish it."

My family once emigrated to Sweden for two years. During that time, we shared our American values and traditions, much to the delight (and sometimes curiosity) of friends and neighbors in our temporarily adopted country. But we did not strive to fundamentally alter the culture of our host nation. Indeed, we acquired many delightful traditions there which we carried home to America and still enjoy to our greater delight and human vision without submerging our native spirit.

While we as Americans do not fear foreigners, we should fear that which is foreign, i.e., destructively alien, to our national character. We have every reason to delight in our American heritage, for it has fostered the most cherished and brilliant form of human existence, liberty and creativity the world has ever known. We are well disposed to share these blessings with all who would embrace them, and have every right to require that they learn and absorb them into their own lives. But we are equally justified in standing firm against all who wish to smother or dismantle them in favor of a strange spirit.

E pluribus unum!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Faint, Yet Pursuing

By Garry J. Moes

I write this while visiting the home of my son-in-law and daughter, Maj. Mark and Shiloh Hand, at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. My family and I have come here for the base’s big Fourth of July celebration, in the expectation that one could hardly find a better place to celebrate Independence Day. Mark, who has spent two lengthy tours of duty in Iraq, is now in the field here at this Mojave Desert base coordinating a training program for Iraqi military trainers. He’s a remarkable leader both on the field of earthly battle and in spiritual warfare.

Yesterday, after returning from a late-night session wisely mediating a conflict in his church, he introduced me to an old devotional book, Morning Exercises for the Closet for Every Day of the Year, written in the early 19th century by a British cleric, the Rev. William Jay (1769-1853). While he is not well known, some consider him second only to Charles Spurgeon among English preachers. This devotional book, companion of Jay’s Evening Exercises..., is reminiscent of Spurgeon’s classic Morning and Evening devotional book.

On the eve of the annual celebration of our nation’s independence, I am perusing Jay’s meditations for July 3 and 4, brief studies of a phrase in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapter 8, verse 4: "Faint, yet pursuing." The passage concerns a reluctant but obedient military leader of the ancient Hebrews, Gideon.

Jay’s devotionals for July 3 and 4, although written as an exercise of encouragement for spiritual warfare, contain language which I find to be a remarkable admonition for our country in the present prosecution of the war against the implacable enemies of both our faith and our cherished civilization.

Following are excerpts which should be taken to heart by our citizens and our leaders in this critical time when many are more inclined to faint than to pursue:


[July 3] — What war is there that has in it nothing to depress, nothing to animate, and that does not furnish a diversity of feelings in those who carry it on?

Yes; while engaged in this good fight ... they may be faint. We need not wonder at this, if we consider the enemies they have to vanquish. ... If we also consider the qualities of their adversaries, their number, their malignity, their power, their policy, their success, for they have cast down many mighty, yea, many strong men have been slain by them. When we think of the heroes, the statesmen, the princes, the philosophers, the divines and all the myriads they have enslaved and destroyed, who is not ready to tremble, and exclaim, "I shall one day perish!"

There is also the length of service. It is not for a season only, but for life. We are not allowed to receive any proposals of peace. We cannot enter into a truce, no, not even to bury the dead. Let the dead bury the dead. We are to fight on through summer and winter, by day and night, in every situation and condition. He that endureth to the end, the same only shall be saved. ... While we are here, something is still to be done, something still to be avoided....

There are also occasional difficulties too common to be overlooked. It is easy to suppose a few of them. What marvel if the soldier is faint, when the road is rough and thorny, and the weather is warm and oppressive — and he hungers and thirsts for want of seasonable refreshments and supplies, which are interrupted, if not cut off — and he feels a loss of strength, occasioned by a wound from without, or an indisposition from within? ...

And if this, therefore, be my experience, let me remember that there is nothing ominous nor even peculiar in it. ... And let me be thankful that to will is present with me, though how to perform that which is good I find not. If I faint, I do not flee. Faint, yet PURSUING.

[July 4] — ... There is ... much to eoncourage [us] in [our] cause. It is a good warfare. It will bear examination. Conscience entirely approves of it. ... There is therefore nothing to make us waver or hesitate. Every thing in the conflict feeds courage. We ought to engage and persevere. It is the cause of truth, of righteousness, of glory, of real glory....

And let me think of the certainty of the issue. Fear unnerves; but it would make a hero of a coward to assure him in the conflict that he should overcome. This can rarely or never be done in other [than spiritual] contentions, for nothing is so doubtful as the result of battle. Prudence therefore says, Let not him that putteth on the harness boast himself like him that putteth it off. ... [Yet] however trying or lengthened the struggle may be, he fights not uncertainly. Yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors.

Jay’s words found an echo when Francis Scott Key penned the fourth stanza of The Star Spangled Banner:

Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What Floats Your Boat?

By Graham H. Moes
Graybrook Film Critic

If environmentalism is the religion of liberals -- complete with end-times prophecies, carbon offset indulgences for “sins” and Al Gore’s scriptures on hotel nightstands -- the Church of Green can now boast its own Noah account in Evan Almighty.

The crazy thing is, many broad-minded Christians can lay claim to Universal's biblical comic epic too.

Yes, in terms of its worldview, Evan Almighty might be the oddest bird caught on film since that seagull Randy Johnson obliterated with a fastball a few years ago.

On the one hand, it’s a by-the-numbers, mostly liberal message movie that elevates urban sprawl to the 8th Deadly Sin. Think "Jonah and the Whale" re-told as "Free Willy."

On the other hand, it’s predicated on the freestanding premise God is real, loves His creatures and demands their service in a universe He fully controls.

Steve Carell (The Office, 40 Year Old Virgin) reprises his supporting role as news anchor Evan Baxter from Bruce Almighty. Recently elected to congress on a "change the world" slogan, Evan moves into a massive new housing development for the super rich in Virginia with his wife Joan (Joan of ARK, get it?) and three sons.

Overwhelmed by the task, he prays God will show him how to make good on his campaign promise. In the film's funniest sequence, God shows up -- again and again and again -- to hammer home His reply that Evan is to hammer up a massive ark, on-load the animals He'll send, and prepare for a second flood intended to wipe the once pristine valley clean of the encroaching works of man.

In a plot lifted directly from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the increasingly driven neo-Noah throws himself into the mission from God, to the horror of his coworkers, ridicule of his constituents and abandonment by his wife.

The subplot, lifted directly from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, involves Evan being used by a senior congressman to launch a bill allowing residential construction in our national parks.

When it works, which if more often than not, the film has Steve Carell to thank.

The endearing dopiness that drives his Office persona powers the subplot -- essentially a series of sequences in which he morphs from GQ congressman to Geico Caveman to Gandalf the Burlap in a matter of days, all the while dodging all creatures great and small as they track him two-by-two around the beltway.

(The very thought of Jim Carrey hamming it up past the punchline in this role makes me cringe.)

Carell's other mode, the pie-eyed earnestness that barely salvaged 40 Year Old Virgin, delivers the A-storyline, a funny, family friendly, cynicism-free affair that almost makes Leave it to Beaver seem sordid in comparison.

This movie is clearly post-Passion of the Christ. The questionable premise and morally iffy gags that put Bruce Almighty beyond the reach of many Christians has been replaced by a genuine attempt at affirming our faith.

That said, it's largely the shiny happy "seeker sensitive" version of Christianity presented. Easy on the fire and brimstone, extra rainbow please.

God all but apologizes for the big misunderstanding last time he flooded earth. Forget all that "wrath" talk. Really it was all about bringing folks closer: Noah's family coming together on a nautical family project, the animals arriving all two-by-two and cozy-like, etc.

"Ark," in fact, turns out to be an acronym for "Act of Random Kindness."

Nor, it seems, is Jehovah concerned for His glory first and foremost. He does everything because He loves us and wants us to be in communion with Him. That happens to be a major debate in the church today, actually. And in this respect, Evan Almighty is more Joel Osteen than St. Augustine.

Then again, Christians of every stripe will warm to the unprecedented depiction of a man standing before the unbelieving world, compelled by God to play the holy fool. Much like the original Noah must have done. Sure, Paul Scofield did it in 1966's A Man for All Seasons, but here, smack dab in the middle of a 2007 summer blockbuster comedy? Fairly unusual.

I'll leave it at that. As comedy, it has its moments despite running out of gas a bit early. As spectacle, it delivers a nice ride in the third act. (Can't wait to see a historical epic on the original Noah now.) As theology... Eh. Not so much.

Bottom line, how this film floats your boat will depend on the degree to which you hold your political and doctrinal standards close. Either way, the debate to come as this one hits screens should be interesting.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dark Visions

I have previously posted commentary by a Romanian relief worker and visionary, Michael Boldea, Jr., who, like his late grandfather, seems to have unique and curious insights concerning the future, especially as it relates to coming judgments for the United States and the West. I am posting his latest vision, which had special impact when, shortly after reading it, I came across a secular expert's predictions, which I reproduce below the Boldea comments. – GJM

* * * * *
A New War Is Coming
By Michael Boldea Jr.
Hand of Help Ministries

Jeremiah 50:22, “A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.”

James 5:8, “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

One of the most important lessons I learned as a young man traveling with my grandfather, as being his interpreter, is that one must always prepare for battle, before he is faced with it. Just as a soldier must know the weapons of his warfare, train with them, and be comfortable with them, so must a servant of God know his weapons and prepare himself before he ventures out into enemy territory. It was so ingrained in me that a servant of God must be prayed up and fasted up before he goes out to minister that, before every tour I begin, I take a couple weeks to simply fast and pray and draw close to God and see what He would have me share at the upcoming meetings.

I was still in Romania the first few days of February, about halfway through a two-week fast, when after having spent some time in prayer, I went to bed and fell into a restful sleep. Sometime during the night, I began to dream. I dreamt I was hearing what were at first faint hoof beats, but the closer they got, the louder they grew, until it was a thundering roar of not one or two horses but what seemed like hundreds. I felt as though the ground beneath me was shaking from the onrushing horses, and the sound of them became so loud that I suddenly awoke in my bed. As I blinked a few times, adjusting to the darkness in my room, I noticed a shadow at the foot of my bed. I blinked again, and there stood the same man I have seen on previous occasions, dressed in battle armor, his hands resting atop each other before him on the hilt of his sword.

“What is the meaning of what I just dreamt?” I asked, somehow knowing he had come to give me the interpretation.

“What you heard,” he began, “were the chariots of war, and they are swiftly approaching. A new war is coming, but it will be unlike this present one (emphasis added). Speak as you have spoken, pray as you have prayed, and walk as you have walked for dark days will soon come upon the land to which you are returning. Even now their enemies plot, even now their enemies unite under one banner, and soon they will make their intentions known to the world. There is no refuge but in the Father, and He will guide and protect those who know His voice.”

I blinked again, and the man was gone, and I was left to ponder the words I had heard. I struggled with whether I should make this dream public, for I know the reaction that some will have to it, and the last thing I desire is to stir fear in the heart of any man. After much prayer, I felt I was supposed to publish the dream, and though some may receive it as a reason to fear, the true children of God will receive it for what it was, the forewarning of a loving Father, preparing His children for what is to come. God’s desire for us is not ignorance, but rather knowledge, that we may prepare our hearts, in prayer and fasting, that we may draw closer to Him, that we make Him our place of refuge long before hardship forces us to seek one. The wise man prepares, while the foolhardy is caught unaware.

As always my prayers continue to be with you and yours, and with a grateful heart I thank you for all that you do on behalf of those less fortunate.

Jeremiah 19:15, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.”

(April 6, 2007)

* * * * *

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

An expert who helped prepare a 1994 report that uncannily predicted the threat terrorists would pose – including key aspects of the 9/11 attacks – now warns of even more ominous attacks.

"Muslim extremists will acquire nuclear weapons within the next 10 years, if they do not possess them already," writes Forecasting International founder and president Marvin Cetron in the new issue of The Futurist magazine.

Cetron played a key role in the 1994 report titled "Terror 2000: the Future Face of Terrorism."

The report was part of a Pentagon sponsored conference that took input from several experts, including Paul Bremer, formerly ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism and administrator of Iraq; Brian Jenkins, now senior vice president at the RAND Corp.; and others.

At the time, the common wisdom was that terrorism was becoming obsolete, for no state would be likely to sponsor future terrorist acts for fear of crippling reprisals.

The authors of the "Terror 2000" report saw it differently. Terrorism, they predicted, would be sponsored not by states but by Muslim extremists motivated by hatred of the West.

Among the particulars, the compilers of the report foresaw a new, more successful attack on the World Trade Center towers, the crash of an airplane into the Pentagon, and the threat of simultaneous assaults on widely separated targets.

Among the particulars, the compilers of the report foresaw a new, more successful attack on the World Trade Center towers, the crash of an airplane into the Pentagon, and the threat of simultaneous assaults on widely separated targets.

The accuracy of that report lends considerable credence to Cetron and his organization, and their new predictions.

"Rather than obtaining nuclear weapons from a sympathetic government, al-Qaida or its spin-offs will likely become the government in any of perhaps a dozen countries," Cetron writes.

"Wherever secular government is weak, it might easily be replaced by a much stronger and more virulently anti-American theocracy with leaders drawn straight from the terrorist movement."

He cites Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and the predominantly Muslim nations of the former Soviet Union.

"However," Cetron notes, "our own choice for ‘most likely to undergo a religious revolution' is Saudi Arabia, where the royal family has supported the extremist Wahhabi sect for some 200 years."

Interestingly, Cetron's report was published before Saudi officials arrested last week 172 militants it claimed were planning massive and coordinated terror attacks at installations, including numerous refineries, across the kingdom.

* * * * *

EDITOR'S NOTE: The first article above is one in a long series of prophetic warnings written by Mr. Boldea and his grandfather, Dumitru Duduman, founder of Hand of Help, a small charitable ministry working with the poorest of the poor in Romania. Both men, over the years, have related a host of dreams and visions in which serious warnngs and calls to repentance have been revealed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

S3 Comes on a Web and a Prayer

By Graham H. Moes
Graybrook Film Critic

I caught the eleventh-hour press screening of Spider-Man 3 last night, almost literally at the eleventh hour. Spidey geeks camped out for the midnight showing, in fact, glanced up from their trading cards and Game Boys just long enough to give us "VIPs" dirty looks of Venom-like proportions for cutting to the head of the line. Didn't look much happier as we threw them a friendly wave on the way out either.

But on to the movie.

The short version: S3 is somewhere on the upper end of good and the lower end of great. Alright, much lower than great.

Part three of any trilogy is make-or-break time. You either end on a high note (Revenge of the Sith) or drag down the whole shebang (X-Men 3).

Personally, I tend to favor origins stories. Fellowship of the Ring is still tops with me despite Return of the King's superior firepower as spectacle. That's largely how I feel about S3. The effects are better, the story has greater depth, and the themes are deeper. It's just hard to beat the emotional impact and story arc of the "genesis" installment for me.

That, and S3's too-many sources of villainy -- presented sympathetically and connected in loose ways that tend to dissipate much of the tension -- are the biggest negatives. The Sandman looks phenomenal, but it's hard to hate a guy motivated by the love of his daughter the way we could hate the demonic fury of Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man.

But fans of director Sam Raimi's earlier, darker, quirkier career will still appreciate a return to style at times here. A completely random sequence showing the "evil" Peter Parker strutting his sexy stuff on the streets of New York is some of the funniest stuff in the film. A lot of people are hating that exact bit, but it's old school Raimi to the core. (Remember the Three Stooges-esque eye pokes Ash endured in the graveyard during Army of Darkness? Feels a little like that.)

The great and mighty Bruce Campbell makes his usual cameo for Raimi as well, this time as a hilariously over-the-top maître de at a French restaurant. Clearly a better choice for the recent Pink Panther remake, had a remake not been pure blasphemy in the first place.

Oh, did I mention Bryce Dallas Howard? Turns out the daughter of Opie Cunningham is fine, foxy lady, despite what The Village or Lady in the Water may have led us to believe.

Conservatives too should give this a thumbs up. While hardly a political movie and has no obvious subplot involving, say, a mechanical, multi-tentacled Osama bin Laden, the film never strays from its earnest Red State roots.

Which basically means it doesn't take much to please conservatives anymore.

It's manna from heaven these days when Christianity isn't maligned, when gratuitous jabs at George Bush don't materialize, when the everyman (and everywoman) characters don't shack up, and when the hero somehow manages to speak without a sniff of irony about things like the power of forgiveness and making moral choices in life.

Sure it's a little corny at times, but I like corn.

Superman Returns, you may recall, drew fire for avoiding the Man of Steele's American hero status. (I hear it from my own manager all the time: "It won't play well overseas!") In stark contrast, S3 has Spidey swing into battle framed by a giant American flag.

Happily, that one shot is already irking Eurotrash critics like Leo Lewis at the Times Online, who ends his review with:

"Also disappointing is the inability of the director, Sam Raimi, to end the romp without a fleeting shot of the American flag. The Stars and Stripes just happens to be fluttering behind Spidey as he makes his triumphal return to honour, probity and good honest fist-fighting."

The filmmakers say they weren't trying to say anything with that flag. Could be. Could be they're just smart enough to realize films that do well overseas often don't do well here, where the money actually is.

Still..."I'm a patriotic guy. I do believe it's absolutely true this country strives to do the right thing," said director Sam Raimi during a recent interview with World magazine.

S3 also contains a "conversion" scene of sorts taking place at the foot of a massive cathedral cross. I'll leave it at that.

The film will be a runaway hit regardless of critics' opinions, which are also running strong in S3's favor.And when it is, look for talk of Raimi's involvement in New Line's Hobbit project to heat up too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The "Law and Order" Candidate

Back in the Sixties, when the leftist Revolution was moving into violent high gear and the existence of all that we knew as America was clearly being threatened, many of the fearful spoke of the need for "law and order" candidates when the election periods of the 1960s and 1970s rolled around.

So much of what the "Sixties" represented has again become the order of our day, but uneasiness about a looming chaos has been heightened with some very contemporary new threats. Back in the former days, it took a clear-thinking well-spoken actor-statesman, Ronald Reagan, to bring the country back to its roots and senses. Today a similar figure is emerging in the person of Fred Thompson.

Thompson, who has not yet announced his candidacy for president but who looks very much like he will, has given conservatives happy goosebumps and appears to have Reaganesque qualities which could prove unbeatable and, more importantly, just the sort of sincere wisdom that this nation craves in its new hour of need.

We are pleased to reprint here a number of reports and commentaries which we hope will help convince the candadite and the voters that Fred Thompson is the man of the hour. -- GJM

* * * * *

Thompson Seeing a Green Light on the Right
By Ralph Z. Hallow and Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

Evidence of former Sen. Fred Thompson’s presidential appeal to victory-seeking conservatives is growing, including drawing more than 50 House Republicans on April 18 to hear his pitch and walking out with some endorsements for the Tennessean.

“When Fred Thompson runs for president, I will endorse him,” said Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida. Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana said Mr. Thompson “is ready, and I want him to run.”
Richard Land, one of the nation’s leading Southern Baptists, told The Washington Times that Mr. Thompson is sure to win if he runs.

“If Fred Thompson enters the race, he will be the odds-on favorite to become the nominee,” said Mr. Land, president of the South Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “He will be a formidable candidate in the general election for the presidency.”

The actor-politician has invited Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to attend any announcement of a presidential candidacy.

Mr. Kinder, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war, noted that “Thompson won both his U.S. Senate races by more than 20 percentage points in a state that Bill Clinton carried twice.”

“Fred Thompson has demonstrated massive crossover appeal [to Democrats and independents] reminiscent of Reagan,” Mr. Kinder said.

Mr. Land and Mr. Kinder’s enthusiasm adds to the conviction among Republican insiders that Mr. Thompson will enter the contest and become a magnet for Iraq war advocates and social conservatives looking for a candidate they can trust.

Mr. Thompson told reporters he was on Capitol Hill to meet old friends and make new ones, but said nothing about his political ambitions.

Rep. Zach Wamp, the Tennessee Republican who organized the meeting, said five of the seven members of the Republican leadership were among the 53 lawmakers who attended. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri did not attend. Mr. Wamp said Mr. Blunt had been scheduled to meet with President Bush.

Not all of the Republicans meeting with Mr. Thompson were ready to make an endorsement. Many said they simply wanted to hear what he had to say. Mr. Thompson had the ear of Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa and Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, whose states have early primaries or caucuses.

“After seven failed years of George Bush, this party needs somebody who can excite them,” said Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican. He was one of the outspoken conservatives against the Iraq war who attended the Capitol Hill meeting.

Mr. Thompson is a former Watergate prosecutor who plays a minor role as district attorney in the popular TV series “Law & Order.”

Missouri is shaping up to be a battleground for endorsements. Gov. Matt Blunt has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani appeared Saturday at a fundraiser for Mr. Blunt’s father, but the congressman has not publicly endorsed any candidate.

Mr. Land said Mr. Thompson’s wife, Jeri Kehn, telephoned to thank him for a complimentary newspaper column. On April 14, Mr. Thompson phoned to say he wanted Mr. Land present at any campaign kickoff. “No date or time frame was mentioned,” Mr. Land said.

Mr. Land gave a qualified “yes” when asked whether conservative evangelical voters will sit out the 2008 election if none of the candidates shares their values. He said they may participate in elections below the presidential level, but “you will see a significant drop in the turnout among evangelicals.”

Run, Fred, Run
By Cal Thomas

I have no idea whether Fred Thompson, former senator from Tennessee, will run for the Republican nomination for president, but he should.

He has Ronald Reagan's communication skills and speaks plainly in ways most people can understand. Anyone who has listened to him substitute for Paul Harvey on ABC News Radio senses that, in this, he follows in Reagan's footsteps. Radio is an intimate medium. People who are able to connect with a radio audience often can connect on TV and in person. Thompson, the actor, plays other people. On radio and in news interviews, he "plays" himself.

Thompson conveys Middle American, common sense values. When he is asked a question, he doesn't sound as if he's giving a poll-tested pabulum answer. Agree or not, his statements spring from conviction.

In an interview with Fox's Chris Wallace last month, Thompson gave refreshingly direct answers to questions. On Iraq: "We're the leader of the free world whether we like it or not. People are looking to us to test our resolve. People think that if we hadn't gone down there (to Iraq), things would have been lovely. If Saddam Hussein were still around today with his sons looking at Iran developing a nuclear capability, he undoubtedly would have reconstituted his nuclear capability. Things would be worse than they are today."

Yes, we made mistakes in Iraq, Thompson says. "We went in there too light, wrong rules of engagement, wrong strategy, placed too much emphasis on just holding things in place while we built up the Iraqi army, took longer than we figured. Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify things. I think we're doing that now."

Abortion? "Pro-life. I think Roe vs. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges."

Gay rights? "I think that we ought to be a tolerant nation. I think we ought to be tolerant people. But we shouldn't set up special categories for anybody. Marriage is between a man and a woman and I don't believe judges ought to come along and change that."

As for "civil unions," Thompson thinks it should be left up to the states.

Gun control? Thompson is "against it generally."

Thompson is a member of the advisory committee for the Libby Legal Defense Trust, which supports Dick Cheney's former chief of staff who is appealing his perjury conviction. Thompson told Wallace if he were president he would pardon Libby immediately: "This is a trial that never would have been brought in any other part of the world. This is a miscarriage of justice."

There's something else to like about Fred Thompson. He doesn't appear to be lusting after the job as if he needs it for his self-image. This, too, is much like Reagan, who knew who he was before becoming president and was the same after he left office.

It is said of Thompson that he has always "answered the call" of his country, whether it was serving as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, or in other capacities, including United States senator.

Some political "experts" think it is almost too late for any new candidate to announce for president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he intends to wait until September before saying if he will run. Actually, waiting might be the best strategy for these Republicans. Conservative Republicans are restless about what they regard as a weak field. They want someone who can take on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and win.

The Time Is Now for Fred Thompson
Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
Saturday, April 21, 2007

NEWSMAX.COM -- For everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven — even a time to declare one's presidential candidacy.
For Fred Thompson, the time is now!

Momentum has been building for Thompson in the past six weeks. If he announces his presidency run in the next few weeks, he will coast easily into a berth in the Republican finals against Rudy Giuliani. But if he delays — as he shows signs of wanting to do — he will miss the boat.

For many candidates, delay means that they don't have to stand out and be targets until later in the game. But for Thompson, delay could be fatal.

The major negative against the former Tennessee senator is that he lacks the heart or the fire in the belly to compete and win.

With Hillary Clinton looming as the expected Democratic nominee, victory is of surpassing importance to the Republican primary electorate. Republicans will not nominate someone who they think is ambivalent about running.
During his Senate tenure, Thompson's work habits were suspect. The New York Times recently (gently) noted that he was not known as one of the hardest working senators. The very fact that he left the Senate after only eight years in office raised suspicions that he was distracted by the allure of Hollywood and the joys of private life.
Too long a delay in announcing his candidacy could fuel such speculation and create a negative that need not exist for the actor-turned-politician-turned-actor.

On paper, Fred Thompson looks like a nominee from, well, central casting. Invoking the legacy of Ronald Reagan, his communications skills hearken back to the era when the GOP right had a president so fluid, silken voiced, and articulate that it could advance its agenda without compromise and still prevail.

With Rudy Giuliani threatening to resurrect Rockefeller Republicanism in a modern incarnation, Thompson offers a refuge for pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay Republicans.

The recent Supreme Court decision upholding congressional legislation banning partial birth abortion and the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech will both ignite demands on the left for an aggressive drive to protect Roe v. Wade, and to legislate tougher gun controls.

This Democratic offensive puts Rudy Giuliani in the middle and could erode support for his candidacy. On the other hand, it could fire the ranks of true believers and lead them to rally around a Fred Thompson candidacy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Fundamentals of Armageddon

By Garry J. Moes

Fanatical liberal extremists, such as the reality-challenged butch whack-job Rosie O'Donnell, are fond of charging that the United States of America (read United States of Bush) is a greater force for terror in the world than the self-proclaimed terrorists who have been blowing up everything in sight for some 40-50 years now. The charge is so absurd that it does not deserved to be discussed. So I won't.

I would like to discuss, however, a parallel charge, also from the same quarters (including Rosie the rabid riveter), that there is no essential difference between Islamic "fundamentalists" and Christian "fundamentalists," except that the latter are probably more dangerous. The "dangerous" part of that allegation is as patently absurd as the broader charge cited in the opening paragraph. However, it would be enlightening to consider what parallels there might be between Islamic fundamentalism and certain Christian elements. (Actually, "parallels" is a less appropriate term than, say, "mirror images.")

First of all, the religiously ignorant loudmouths making the charges know virtually nothing about the tenets of either Islamic fundamentalism or Christian fundamentalism. I would be happy if they would only acquaint themselves with the former, because a keen, even basic, understanding of the religious inspiration and motivations of the Islamic imperialists would be sufficient to end the discussion.

In modern Christianity, the term "fundamentalism" is a theological term of art. Fundamentalist Christianity, or Christian Fundamentalism (with a capital "F"), is a movement that arose mainly within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, led by conservative evangelical Christians, who, in a reaction to "modernism," set forth a series of fundamental Christian beliefs: the literal inerrancy and authority of the Bible, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Christ through His death on the cross, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

In the late 19th century and early to middle 20th century, Christian Fundamentalists became highly identified with another set of beliefs which mainstream Christianity did not hold to, namely a scheme of historical interpretation of the Bible and a particular systematic eschatology known as "dispensationalism." Dispensationalism teaches biblical history as a number of successive economies or administrations, called dispensations, each of which emphasizes the continuity of the covenants God made with the Hebrews/Jews, said to be His original and eternally chosen people.

Most dispensationalists also espouse an eschatology (doctrine of the "end times") known as "premillenialism," which holds that Jesus Christ will return to earth at a certain point in history (that point delineated by certain benchmarks including the end [or beginning, in a variant view] of a seven-year period of severe persecution or "tribulation" ) and literally reign on the earth from a throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years, after which the earth and all the wicked in it will be destroyed. Christians will be "raptured" out of the earthly environment either before, during or after the millennial reign, depending on which of several views of premillennialism one holds.

Among the benchmarks or "signs" of the end times and coming of the millennial reign of Christ are these, according to the premillennial Fundamentalists: the rise of false religious prophets, teachers and messiahs; wars; famines; earthquakes; tribulations; the spread of the Christian Gospel throughout the world; increasing godlessness; apostasy (a falling away) from the faith among Christians; the rise of a 200-million-man army in the East; the redevelopment of the Roman Empire (now taken to mean the European Union); the return of the Hebrew language within Israel; the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, along with the return of Temple worship and animal sacrifices; the appearance of a certain Red Heifer in Israel; increase in global knowledge and travel; the return of Ethiopian Jews to Israel; the rise of Russia as a strong military power; an alliance or pincher movement of Russia and China; the return of Russian Jews to Israel; the rise of certain technologies which will result in all of the enemies of Christ receiving a "mark of the beast"; the rise and establishment of "one world government" and a universal language under the rule of political superman or "antichrist"; the rise of Satanism, the occult, and sorcery; a rise in homosexuality, adultery, feminism, sex, violence, disobedience/rebellion among children and drug use; false peace movements; and instant worldwide communication.

Many premillennialists believe most of these benchmarks have recently been met and that the return of Christ to wage a final battle against His enemies, to establish His 1,000-year iron-fisted rule over the wicked of this world and to enter His Final Judgment against evil mankind is imminent. Some scan the daily news reports in great detail looking for evidence of the arrival of these signs. Many are working feverishly, in the open and in secret, to hasten the arrival of benchmarks still unrealized and thereby usher in the Rapture and Millennial Kingdom.

Over against the Fundamentalist Christian millennial view (by no means universally held among Christians, some believing that a figurative or spiritual "millennial" reign of Christ began with His original Incarnation and will continue until the end of history) is a particular eschatological view held by some adherents within Shi’ite Islam. These Muslims are expecting and/or working for the imminent return of a figure known as the Twelve or Hidden Imam, who will lead the world in an Islamic brand of millennial rule.

While the stories of the first eleven Imams are historical in nature, the history of the Twelfth Imam is mystical and miraculous. He was born in A.D. 868 as Abu'l-Kasim Muhammad (which is the name of the Prophet himself). When Hasan al-Askari, the Eleventh Imam, died in A.D. 874, the seven-year-old boy declared himself to be the Twelfth Imam and went into hiding, according to scholar Richard Hooker of Washington State University.

"The central Shi'a doctrines revolving around the Hidden Imam are the doctrines of Occultation (Ghayba ) and Return (Raj'a ). The Doctrine of Occultation is simply the belief that God hid Muhammad al-Mahdi away from the eyes of men in order to preserve his life. God has miraculously kept him alive since the day he was hidden in 874 AD/260 AH; eventually God will reveal al-Mahdi to the world and he will return to guide humanity," Hooker says.

This return is the most significant event in the future for the Shi'ite faithful and has thunderous eschatological consequences. This return will occur shortly before the Final Judgment and the end of history. Imam Mahdi will return at the head of the forces of righteousness and do battle with the forces of evil in one, final, apocalyptic battle. When evil has been defeated once and for all, the Imam Mahdi will rule the world for several years under a perfect government and bring about a perfect spirituality among the peoples of the world. After the Imam Mahdi has reigned for several years, Jesus Christ will return (raj'a ), as will Husayn and others. It is the return of the dead that falls under the Doctrine of Return; the Mahdi will only appear to humanity.

Twelver Shi'ism is, then, a deeply eschatological religion. Important to understanding Shi'a religious belief is the understanding that the end of time will be preceded by an era of perfect justice and spirituality. The world, for the Shi'ite, is a deeply immoral, degenerate, and corrupt place; these are the necessary preludes to the appearance of Imam Mahdi. Like Christianity, Shi'ism is also a deeply prophetic religion. Like Christian belief, the end of time and the appearance of the Mahdi will be preceded by a number of events foretold in prophecy. The Shi'ite, then, like many Christians, lives in a world full of signs of the impending concluding chapters of history. This is vitally important in understanding Shi'a culture and political theory. Most of Iranian history can only be understood in relationship to the Doctrine of Return and the prophecies associated with it. For instance, during the Iranian Revolution, several Iranians believed that Ayatullah Ruhollah Khumayni, the spiritual and theoretical head of the Revolution, was the Hidden Imam returned to the world of humanity. While Khumayni never admitted this, he never denied it either. In many ways, the Revolutionaries believed that they were engineering or inaugurating the beginning of the reign of justice in the world, just as the radical Protestant English who settled America believed that they were inaugurating the one thousand year rule of saints that would precede the end of the world. Contemporary Iranian politics can in no way be divorced from the fundamental religious tenets of Shi'a Islam.

As described by John von Heyking of the Ashbrook Center for Public Policy at Ashland University:

One of the differences between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam is that the latter, who dominate Iran and form the majority in Iraq, believe that Allah shielded or hid Muhammad al-Mahdi as the Twelve Imam until the end of time. Shi’ites expect the Twelfth Imam, which Jews and Christians would recognize as a messianic figure, to return to save the world when it had descended into chaos. Shi’ite orthodoxy has it that humans are powerless to encourage the Twelfth Imam to return. However, in Iran a group called the Hojjatieh believe that humans can stir up chaos to encourage him to return. Ayatollah Khomeini banned the group in the early 1980s because they rejected one of the primary commitments of the Iranian revolution: the concept of Vilayat-i Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist). In other words, they opposed the notion of an Islamic republic because it would hinder the Twelfth Imam’s return on account of it being too just and peaceful. Today, in addition to the possibility of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad himself being a member (or a former member), the group has connections to Qom ultraconservative cleric Mezbah Yazti whom Iranians frequently refer to as the "crazed one" and the "crocodile." Four of the twenty-one new cabinet ministers are purportedly Hajjatieh members. Some reports state that cabinet ministers must sign a formal pledge of support for the Twelfth Imam.

* * *

According to Shi’ite teaching, the Twelfth Imam will not require an introduction upon his return. His identity will be self-evident to all, or at least to those capable of recognizing him. One view states that he will rule through a deputy, or perhaps the deputy will precede the Imam’s return. Perhaps the deputy’s identity should also be evident to all who can see. [Could this be the Beast or False Prophet of Christian Premillenialism’s Antichrist? — GJM]

While Ahmadinejad has not drawn an explicit connection between his desire to see Israel wiped off the map and an activist belief in the Twelfth Imam’s return, the dots are there to be connected once one understands the tyrannical "logic" behind someone who, perhaps viewing himself as a self-proclaimed deputy for the Twelfth Imam, might wish to effect Mahdi’s return. The deputy would promote Iran’s nuclear capabilities for they are key to effecting chaos in the world. The deputy would also purge diplomats, dozens of deputy ministers and heads of government banks and businesses, and challenge the Iranian ruling clerical establishment. All these moves push the regime toward a "coup d’etat" (according to one Iranian source) or at least a constitutional crisis. But a constitutional crisis would be a mere stepping stone for a president for whom the Twelfth Imam does not require an Islamic republic to return.

Western observers need to be able to understand the ideological and religious overtones of the current situation in Iran. Ahmadinejad’s peculiar references to the Twelfth Imam are no mere eccentricity to be taken lightly. Nor do they seem to be the rhetorical ploy of a politician manipulating the excitable masses (as some have interpreted Saddam Hussein’s embrace of Islamism in the later part of his rule). Minimally, Ahmadinejad’s speeches and actions portend a constitutional crisis for the Iranian regime. Maximally, there are times when one should take bombastic statements not as double-talk, but for what they are.

Historian Victor Davis Hanon of the Hoover Institution observes, "In all his crazed pronouncements, Ahmadinejad reflects an end-of-days view: History is coming to its grand finale under his aegis."

It is not difficult to see that the Dispensationalist Premillennial Christian view of the end of history and the eschatology of the Shi’te Islamic Twelvers are on a powerful and potentially dangerous collision course, with Israel at the center of both apocalyptic views.

Beyond eschatology, there is a second area of theology which must be examined to clearly understand the clash between Christianity and Islam. The key word in this discussion is "theonomy" — the rule of divine law.

Islamic fundamentalists are currently on a worldwide crusade to establish the rule of divine law as the governing force in society, not only in traditionally Islamic lands but throughout the West as well, including Britain, France, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States, all of which currently have enclaves where Sharia is practiced.

Islamic law is known as Sharia. The term means "way" or "path." It is the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Muslim principles of jurisprudence. Sharia covers all aspects of day-to-day life, including economics, politics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues. There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws pertaining to Sharia. It is more like a system of derived laws, based on the Qur’an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent. Sharia has certain laws which are regarded as divinely ordained, concrete and timeless for all relevant situations (for example, the ban against drinking liquor as an intoxicant). It also has certain laws which derive from principles established by Islamic lawyers and judges.

For fundamentalist Muslims, there is no division of "church" and "state" (although in Islam there is neither church nor state). All of life is one, and all is guided along the path of Sharia. "As Islam makes no distinction between religion and life, Islamic law covers not only ritual but every aspect of life" ( Encyclopedia).

"...Sharia ... contains the rules by which the Muslim world is governed (or should govern itself) and forms the basis for relations between man and God, between individuals, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, as well as between man and things which are part of creation. The Sharia contains the rules by which a Muslim society is organized and governed, and it provides the means to resolve conflicts among individuals and between the individual and the state," according to the Middle East Institute.

In Christianity, the concept of theonomy is being advanced primarily by a highly influential movement known variously as Christian Reconstructionism or Dominion Theology. This movement, sparked by the late California theologian Rousas John Rushdoony, author of The Institutes of Biblical Law, and drawing on principles advanced by early Calvinist Reformers in Europe and American Puritans, also holds that divine law (Biblical law) is, once was, and again should become the fundamental organizing principle for all aspects of society and every area of life.

In the terminology of Christian Reconstructionism, theonomy is the idea that, in the Bible, God provides the basis of both personal and social ethics. In that context, the term is always used in antithesis to autonomy, which is the idea that Self provides the basis of ethics. Theonomic ethics asserts that the Bible has been given as the abiding standard for all human government — individual, family, church, and civil; and that Biblical Law must be incorporated into a Christian theory of Biblical ethics (Wikipedia). The moral laws given by God to the ancient Israelites reflect God's character, which is unchangeable, theonomists hold. Most of the laws are intended for all nations, cultures, societies, religions and all eras, including the present time.

"Theonomic ethics, to put it simply, represents a commitment to the necessity, sufficiency, and unity of Scripture. For an adequate and genuinely Christian ethic, we must have God's word, only God's word, and all of God's word. Nearly every critic of theonomic ethics will be found denying, in some way, one or more of these premises" (The Theonomic Antithesis to Other Law-Attitudes).

Rushdoony writes that "the god of a culture can be located by fixing its source of law. If the source of law is the ontological Trinity of Christian revelation, then that Trinity is the God of that culture. If the source of law rests in the people, then the voice of the people is the voice of God (vox populi, vox dei), and that voice finds expression and incarnation either in a leader, a legislative body, or a supreme court, depending on which gains the ascendency. The highest point in the processes of law is the god of that system" (The Politics of Guilt and Pity).

Theonomists support public policy changes in accord with Biblical principles, but see those changes as coming about as a result of, and not the cause of, conversions to Christianity. By contrast, fundamentalist Muslims would base public policy on Sharia by whatever imposition is necessary, including by arms, terror or forced conversions.

Many Christian theonomists seek a future earthly "Kingdom of God" in which much of the world is converted to Christianity. They cite the numerous scripture passages referring to God's collective judgment upon unrighteous nations and God's blessing upon those rulers and societies heeding His Word as evidence that the presence or absence of Christian values may profoundly influence the rise and fall of nations.

"Theonomy means literally, ‘God's law,’ or the belief that the moral laws of the Old Testament are still binding today. This idea states that only Old Testament laws specifically fulfilled in the New Testament are non-binding (such as sacrificial laws, ceremonial laws and dietary laws). The moral Law of God is still the ethical standard for governing individuals and society," writes Jay Rogers, editor of a Reconstructionist-oriented publication called The Forerunner International.

The moral Law of God, when codified as a basis for civil law, restrains the passion of the sinner (i.e., capital punishment is a deterrent to violent crime). It also acts as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Knowledge of the moral Law of God brings individuals knowledge of sin. Then more may be converted through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. How can we be saved unless we first know that we are sinners?

Theonomy implies the systematic theology of covenantalism: the belief that God operates through covenants, or eternally binding legal agreements; that there is no division between the Old and New Testaments; that the New Covenant includes the moral Law of the Old Covenant; that the Old Covenant required grace through faith in Jesus Christ as a means of obtaining personal salvation.

The system of government resulting from theonomy is called a theocracy: literally, "God's government." When we speak of a theocracy, it should be clear that we are not talking about a state run by a national church, or an ecclessiocracy, such as the Holy Roman Empire, or the totalitarian military dictatorships in Muslim fundamentalist states. In a true theocracy, the state does not control the church, nor the church the state, but both spheres of society are under the government of God. There is implied a decentralization of power or a "Christian Republican" form of government.

Christian Reconstructionism repudiates Zionism and vehemently opposes the views of the Christian Fundamentalist Dispensationalists and Premillennialists, which they say have captured much of the Christian Right in America.

"The Christian Right may be criticized for putting an undue emphasis on ‘political solutions’ and for not relying strictly on biblical law," says Rogers. "Simply put: either we will have man’s law or God’s law as a standard for civil legislation. We are not looking for a ‘voice a the table’ nor are we seeking ‘equal time’ with the godless promoters of pornography, abortion, safe-sodomy subsidies, socialism, etc. We want them silenced and punished according to God’s Law-Word. ... Civil law must has some standard: either it is human autonomy (what man sees as right in his own eyes) or it is biblical law (what God declares to be right in His Word) .... take your pick!"

We believe that there are two biblically prescribed punishments enforceable by the state: execution and restitution. We do not believe in jail sentences. We believe in only the biblically prescribed punishments for violations of the moral law.

We do not believe that the state is the final arbiter in all matters pertaining to the moral law. Most of these cases would be resolved within families or within churches. However, only the state may execute criminals for capital crimes; only the state "bears the sword’ (see Romans 13).

We want civil government to punish evil doers according to biblical sanctions. We want all moral laws of the Old Testament to be enforced according to biblical standards.

Reconstructionists hold that any person — Jew, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant — would be free in a biblically reconstructed society under the civil law to worship. "The civil government has no power to restrict religion," Rogers says. "The civil government has an obligation to see that all people obey the moral law as it falls into civil jurisdiction. Thus religious expressions which contradict the Ten Commandments would not be publicly tolerated. The domain of the church is to preach truth. Because Reconstructionists are postmillennialists [the view that Christ will return at the end of an undefined figurative millennium in which the church and world are now living], we believe that eventually, organized false religions will become rare, if not extinct. This will be accomplished mainly through the efforts of the church, not the state."

Such views produce hysteria among theonomy’s critics, avowed secularists and atheists. One such critic who calls himself an Evangelical Atheist, says, "My friends, Christian Reconstructionism and Muslim Fundamentalism are the two most dangerous ideologies in the world today. Under either, unbelievers would be oppressed at best. At worst, who can say? Which is more of a threat? The Muslims can only blow us up; the Dominionists get to vote. Al-Qaeda can take our lives, but Christian Reconstructionists can take our country, and ultimately, our freedom."

Reconstructionists energetically deny such charges and say that they hold only that as biblical thought competes in the marketplace of ideas, it will eventually win the day because of its inherent goodness, righteousness and justice and eventually become the basic character of society, with biblical ethics codified as law being the natural result. According to Rushdoony, "Now as Christians we believe that the basic starting point is the regeneration of man. Then man takes and applies that faith. For Christians the basic government is the self-government of the Christian man. Then the basic governmental unit is the family. This means that every father and mother will be more important in the sight of God than heads of state, because He controls children, property and the future. Then the third is the church as the government, fourth the school as a government, fifth your job governs you, then sixth society governs you with its ideas, beliefs and standards, and seventh, one among many forms of government, is the civil government."

Meanwhile, the clash of religious fundamentalisms will no doubt continue to grow. The strategies and tactics of the opposing fundamentalist forces are vastly different, with Islam renewing is centuries-old violent imperialism in an attempt to take the world by force through a growing army of terrorists, insurrectionists and violent propagandists. In the modern world, the nations of Christendom have no religiously motivated crusader armies, indeed few have much left of Christianity. Unless the formerly Christian nations of the West awaken to the harsh realities that Islamic fundamentalism seeks to impose on them, the outcome of this civilizational Armageddon looks bleak for the West. It is time to reassert the moral foundations of Western society, which find their genesis in the civilizing impulses and values of Christianity and the Hebrew-Christian Bible. Without the reinforcement of these foundations and the repudiation of its present moral corruptions, the West will crumble, and great will be the fall thereof.

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." — Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27 (KJV)