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Daniel Love Glazer

  • 2014-09-02 2:58 PM | Anonymous

     Happy Father’s Day! What, you say, “This isn’t Father’s Day; Father’s Day was a month ago.”  Well, If you look at the calendar or ask greeting card companies, they will tell you that Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June. But when we consider our Heavenly Father, the Father Absolute who is the creator controller, and infinite upholder of the universe, we realize that today and every day is Father’s Day.

    Toward the end of his life, Jesus told his followers numerous times that he would be killed, and he also said that on the third day he would rise from the dead. Very few of his disciples believed him. They didn’t think he could die. But, in fact, he  was crucified and died a painful death. The question then became, would he rise from the dead, as he predicted? Again, very few of his disciples believed that he would.

    One of his most loyal disciples was Mary Magdalene. In today’s scripture passage from the 20th chapter of John, we are told that on the morning of the third day following Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus had been lain. And, lo and behold, there she met Jesus, who indeed had risen from the dead! And Jesus said to her, “Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”[1]  In this passage, Jesus is proclaiming that God is not only his father, but he is also the father of every person. As Christianity developed, it emphasized that God was the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it often neglected the more robust truth that, as Jesus himself declared, God is also the loving father of each one of us. In this regard, we are equal with Jesus. Of course, Jesus is unique in other ways, such as having divine power. But we are each one of us a child of God, as Jesus is.

    And because we are all God’s children, we are all brothers and sisters to each other. Jesus said, “all of you are brothers and sisters….you have one Father, who is in heaven.”[2]

    Jesus’ God is not far away, but is readily available and ever full of tender mercy. God is not just the Father, but “our Father.”[3]

    Yes, we are all God’s beloved children and, by faith, simple trust in God, we can realize this saving truth. If we do so, we will be “born from above.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.[4] Jesus is not telling us to become childish, but rather childlike, to trust God as a child trusts his earthly parents.

    What kind of father is God? Perhaps we can answer this by considering the scripture we have heard today of the parable of the Prodigal Son, as told by Jesus.[5] This parable introduces us to two very different brothers. The older brother is responsible, serious, and hard-working, but also self-centered and conceited. The younger brother avoids responsibility; he likes to enjoy himself; he is cheerful, lively, and lazy. It’s no wonder that the two brothers did not get along.

    The younger brother decides to leave home. He approaches his father and asks to be given the 1/3 share of his father’s estate that will be his due upon the father’s death. When you think about it, this is pretty insulting: it’s as though the son is wishing his father dead. But the father agrees to the request. The son proceeds to leave home and travel to a distant land. There he indulges his appetites in riotous living, until he has wasted all of his wealth.

    And then this far country is afflicted with famine. In hunger and despair, the son goes to work for a man who has him feeding pigs. And he wishes he could eat what the pigs eat. Finally, he “comes to his senses.” He realizes that while he is starving, his father’s servants are well-fed. He recognizes that he has sinned against heaven and his father and resolves to go back home and ask that he be treated not as a son, but as a servant. So he sets out on the long journey home.

    His father, meanwhile, has been mourning him and hoping for his return. When the son is still far away from home, the father sees him, rushes to him, and hugs and kisses him. “Father,” the son blurts out, “I have sinned against heaven and against you.” But the father cuts this confession short. He calls his servants and instructs them to bring the finest robe, a ring for the son’s finger, and sandals. He tells them kill the calf they have been fattening and to celebrate with a feast. He is elated, because his son, who was lost, has now been found.

    Meanwhile, the older son, who has been working in the fields, comes back to the house and hears sounds of merrymaking. He asks a servant what is happening and is told that his brother has returned and the father has called for a celebration. This dutiful son is angry and refuses to join the party. The father comes out and pleads with him to come in, but this son is too proud and too stubborn. He complains that, though he has always been the good son, doing what his father asked for and what his duty required, the father never even gave him a baby goat so that he could party with his friends, while the younger son, who has wasted his father’s money, is rewarded with a celebration.

    My son, the father replies, everything I have is yours. Anytime you could have had a party for your friends. But it is right that we celebrate, for your brother was dead and now he is alive; he was lost and now is found.

    Henri Nouwen has suggested that this parable, instead of being called the parable of the prodigal son, might better be called the parable of the compassionate father. Indeed, the father’s compassion shines brightly. He isn’t even interested in hearing the confession of the younger son, but simply rejoices in his return. And his compassion extends to the older son, whom he urges to join the celebration.

    Have you ever had an experience like that of the prodigal son? I have. When I was in college in New York, I was very unhappy. I had no interest in school, and spent most of my time in the downtown pool halls. I got involved in gambling at pool halls and at the race track. I wanted money to fund my gambling habit and I thought of a way to get it. My grandfather had long maintained a savings account in my name. Whenever I would visit him at his apartment in Brooklyn, he proudly showed me the passbook that indicated how much money he had put away for me. I decided to get this money. I paid a visit to my grandfather, and when it was over, I shut the door as if I were leaving, but instead, went into the second bedroom and hid under the bed. I lay there, covered in dust, for several hours, until I heard my grandfather leave the apartment. Then I got up, took the savings passbook from the drawer where he kept it, left, and went to the bank, where I withdrew the $600 in the account.

    I then proceeded to lose all the money in a poker game. I had become the prodigal son, but I never “came to my senses” like the son in the parable. I don’t know what would have happened if I had gone to my grandfather and confessed my misdeed. Perhaps, like the father in the parable, he would have forgiven me and embraced me, but I was too afraid and ashamed to find out.

    The father in the parable does not judge, punish, or even criticize the prodigal son. He is simply joyful that the son has come back home. And he also embraces the stubborn older son, encouraging him to join in the joy of celebration. Note the contrast between the attitude of the father in this parable and the attitude of God the Father in much of Christian theology, which insists that a punishment must be enacted to satisfy God’s justice and enable us to be reconciled to him. In contrast, for Jesus, God’s love and mercy overshadow his justice. His forgiveness requires no bribe or sacrifice.

    When the paralyzed man had his friends remove tiles in the roof so they could lower him to be by Jesus, Jesus said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”[6] Salvation is offered right away, in response to honest spiritual desire. Many times, Jesus said to people, “Your faith has made you well”[7] or “Your faith has saved you.”[8] He also assured us, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”[9]

    Jesus declared that “the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”[10]  And that God is even “kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”[11]

    Dear brothers and sisters, let us rejoice that our Father in heaven requires no payment to bestow his grace and salvation on us. He loves each of us with an infinite love and it his great joy to embrace us, like the father in the parable, and to welcome us home.

    Happy Father’s Day!

  • 2014-08-01 2:54 PM | Anonymous
    Press Release
       
     
     
     
     
     
    "We pray for his boldness and his success as America's newly designated advocate for the religiously oppressed around the world."
    -Faith J. H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director

     

    Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
    July 29, 2014
    Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org

    Washington, DC--U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday the nomination of Rabbi David Nathan Saperstein for the position of ambassador at large for international religious freedom.

    Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, has long been a fixture in Washington, D.C. activist circles. The religious freedom post was vacant for two years until filled by Suzan Johnson Cook in 2011, with some calling into question the administration's commitment to making international religious freedom a priority. Cook departed in October.

    Saperstein has served as an appointee to the White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and as the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a watchgdog group that functions independently of the U.S. State Department.

    IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J. H. McDonnell commented:

    "Rabbi David Saperstein has over the decades nearly always aligned politically with liberal Protestant groups and the wider Religious Left. His recent apparent stands against protecting domestic religious freedom on the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate and on LGBTQ advocacy have been unfortunate. But he has long been a tireless defender of international religious freedom for all, including persecuted Christians.

    "He likely will bring energy and enthusiasm to his new role. We pray for his boldness and his success as America's newly designated advocate for the religiously oppressed around the world."

  • 2014-07-31 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    No one cares about the Christians of Mosul–or perhaps we should say the Christians formerly of Mosul. The reports in recent days suggest that the last Christians have now fled that city, forced out by Islamist militants who implemented a “convert or die” policy for Iraq’s ancient Christian community. The most assistance they have received thus far is an offer of asylum from France. If they can make it there, that is, since they have faced robbery, torture, and murder as they’ve made their exodus.

    None of this has gone entirely unreported. These events have been allotted some headlines and the kind of procedural news coverage that the persecution of Christians usually elicits. But if the last remnants of Iraq’s beleaguered Christian population were hoping for any real outrage or anguish from the West, then they were setting themselves up for disappointment. Not only has it long been apparent that no one was ever going to take any action on behalf of these people, but as we have seen, Western publics weren’t even going to trouble themselves to get too worked up about these atrocities.

    Given the huge demonstrations, United Nations Security Council resolutions, and endless hours of reporting on events in Gaza, one is tempted to say that Iraq’s Christians had the misfortune of not being Palestinian. However, that suggestion would be unfair. The world has also neglected the suffering of thousands of Palestinians murdered and starved by the Assad regime in Syria. It is not being Palestinian that wins the world’s attention; it is the accusation that culpability rests with Israel that really provokes some strength of feeling. If only the Christians fleeing Mosul could somehow frame the Israelis for their plight, then they might stand a chance of seeing their cause championed by a host of tweeting celebrities, UN delegates, far-left radicals, and perhaps even the West’s Muslim immigrant populations who have turned out in huge numbers to passionately demonstrate on behalf of Gaza like they never did for their coreligionists in Syria or Libya.

    With reports of how the doors of Christian homes were ominously marked by Islamists so as to streamline this campaign of ethnic cleansing, with incidents of Christians having been crucified–yes, crucified–you might have thought that some of those avid humanitarian activists attending the recent anti-Israel rallies could have at least organized a sub-contingent to highlight the terrible fate of the Iraqi Christians, but no, that might have risked detracting in some way from the anti-Israel political objectives of these protests.

    There is always something distasteful about playing the numbers game with such situations. It is, however, the favorite pastime of Israel’s detractors. The body count in Gaza is endlessly wheeled out to justify the preeminent importance that so many attribute to this cause. You can almost feel the most hardline anti-Israel activists willing it upwards so as to better serve their campaign. Undoubtedly that is Hamas’s calculation. Yet if the liberal college kids and left-leaning journalists who refer to these figures as justification for their obsessive focus on the subject were being remotely honest with themselves, then they would have to find some way of explaining the utter disinterest that they have shown events in Iraq and Syria, where the death toll has been surpassing that in Gaza on almost a weekly basis.

    The long-suffering Christians of Mosul are perhaps considered by the anti-Israel campaigners with the same suspicion with which they viewed the victims of MH17. When news of that attack broke, the first reaction of prominent British news anchor Jon Snow was to unguardedly tweet out: “Awful danger that the shooting down of flight MH17 will provide cover for an intensification of Israel’s ground war in Gaza.” Those attending demonstrations against Israel’s actions in Gaza essentially made the same complaint, that that incident was being awarded too much media attention. The only reason that they weren’t expressing the same accusation regarding the Iraqi Christians is because those atrocities have only been allotted the most token coverage.

    The contrast between the world’s non-reaction to the decimation of Mosul’s once 60,000-strong Christian community and the hysterical hate-fueled frenzy being directed against Israel over the casualties in Gaza reminds us that in the liberal imagination, all human suffering is not considered equal. The determining factor here is not the identity of the victims, but rather who can be framed for the crimes. No one has protested Hamas’s execution of Gazan “collaborators” or the reports of the many Palestinian children killed during the construction of Hamas’s terror tunnels. Every misfiring rocket that kills Gazans is attributed to Israel if at all possible. The only Palestinian casualties that anyone has claimed to be concerned with are those that can be used as ammunition in the war to delegitimize Israel and its right to self-defense.

  • 2014-06-17 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    The legal and political world is awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case with bated breath. The court’s ruling will determine whether the Obama administration’s efforts to restrict religious freedom or the plaintiffs’ belief that faith may be practiced in the public square will prevail. The arguments over the merits of the case in which the government’s attempt to impose a contraception and abortion drug mandate on private businesses as well as religious institutions have been endlessly rehearsed as a sidebar to the general debate about ObamaCare. But, as I noted earlier this year, rather than confining the debate to the question of constitutional rights, critics of the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius have done their best to portray the business owners who seek to strike down the government mandate as not merely wrong but a threat to liberty.

    In order to do this, the administration and its cheering section in the mainstream media have sought to transform the debate from one that centers on government using its power to force people of faith to choose between their religion and their business to the dubious notion that dissenters from the mandate wish to impose their beliefs on others. This is a false premise since even if the owners of Hobby Lobby win, its employees won’t be prevented from obtaining birth control or abortion-inducing drugs. The only thing that will change is whether their Christian employers will be forced to pay for them.

    But efforts to demonize Hobby Lobby are not confined to these specious arguments. As today’s feature in Politico on the Green family shows, the goal of the liberal critics of Hobby Lobby isn’t so much to draw the line on religious freedom as it is to depict their foes as crazy religious extremists who want to transform America into a “Christian nation.” That this is an unfair distortion of their intent as well as the point of the court case goes without saying. But the fact that mainstream publications feel free to mock the Greens in this manner tells us exactly why the plaintiffs’ fears about restrictions on religious freedom may be justified.

    In Politico’s telling, the Greens are religious fanatics who not only are willing to conduct their businesses along religious lines, including closing their chain of hobby stores on Sunday, but also want to promote their beliefs to others. The Greens may wind up investing hundreds of millions of their vast fortune to the building of a Bible museum in Washington D.C. The also want to promote Bible study and a funding a textbook and curriculum about religious studies they’d like to see be adopted by school systems. According to Politico, these efforts are stirring concern in the ranks of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and other liberal organs.

    Were one of the Greens running for national political office, all this would, of course, be fair game. But it bears repeating that these people are private individuals who are merely using their personal resources to do exactly what the Founders sought to guarantee for all Americans: express their opinions and practice their faith without government interference.

    As with their views about contraception or abortion, you don’t have to agree with the Greens to understand that they have every right to practice their faith and to promote their ideas. These are, as Politico admits, not your typical tycoons. They are more interested in faith than profit and are willing to stake their fortune on a fight to preserve their ability to conduct business without being forced to violate their religious beliefs. That may be alien to the mindset of many Americans in an era where much of our popular culture rests on the premise that we live in a world where there is no God and that those whose lives are built on faith are somewhat screwy. But the notion that such people, even very rich ones who build museums and promote Bible study, are a threat to non-believers is utterly fanciful.

    Contrary to their government opponents in their lawsuit, the Hobby Lobby owners are not trying to force the actions of others to conform to their beliefs. What they want is to be left alone to practice their faith while also trying to persuade others to share it. Bible study may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the notion that it is a threat to democracy would have been hard to sell to this nation’s Founders. The attacks on the Greens illustrate the intolerance of openly expressed faith that is at the core of the mandate the administration is seeking to enforce. The Greens are no threat to the liberty of non-believers who need not visit their bible museum nor read the religious materials they publish. But a government, egged on by a liberal media establishment, that can’t tolerate Hobby Lobby’s practices is one that has little interest in defending anyone’s religious freedom. In such an atmosphere, it’s little wonder that Hobby Lobby’s advocates see the outcome of this case as a crucial moment in the fight to defend constitutional liberty.

    http://urantiabook.designtechstudio.com/Admin/commentarymagazine.com

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