Marines.Together We Served

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter: Fact or Fiction?

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
26 March 2018
www.chuckroots.com
The Ripon Bulletin

Easter: Fact or Fiction?

If you are a regular reader of my column then you know that I am a professing Christian. To more precisely identify the type of Christian I am you would want to use words like: evangelical, born again, Bible-believing, Jesus follower.

So, it comes as no surprise that I firmly believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. And this weekend is the Christian celebration of Jesus’ sacrificial death on a Roman cross, followed by his miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Can such an event really be proven? This question is frequently asked, most frequently by skeptics, but also by those who want to know but really have no means of tracking down conclusive evidence.

Because our world for the past 200 years has focused in on science and the answers it frequently discovers about our world and the universe we live in, people have been conditioned to expect that proof for anything must be measured by some sort of testing under specific conditions measured in a laboratory. If that is your means of proving anything, then you already know that God, and the existence of God, cannot be measured in this way. He is not going to be reduced to a microscope’s magnification of germs captured between glass slides, or culture cells in a Petri dish. If the discovery of God was so easily reduced to scientific lab results, can you honestly say you’d be impressed with this God?

Let’s consider instead another means of establishing the existence of a thing. Ontology is the branch of metaphysics that studies the question of what it means to exist. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with questions of knowledge and the existence of the world, which includes ontology, cosmology, and epistemology. Such philosophical disciplines are exhausting and can often leave the inquirer more confused than before.

My purpose is to simply look at some of those arguments for the existence of God, followed logically by the life and ministry of Jesus.

One of the arguments for the existence for God is intelligent design. A useful analogy has often been used to explain the necessity for the existence of God. The analogy goes like this: “Just as a watch demands a watchmaker, so the Universe demands a God.” This is not a conclusive argument, but it does convey the basic thesis that the obvious order exhibited throughout our universe strains the credibility of disorder (Big Bang Theory) creating order.

Another argument for the existence of God is found in the hypothesis that an individual is entirely incapable of even thinking of God unless a sovereign God places such a thought in the mind of that individual, and therefore the whole human race.

One final argument for God’s existence is the argument from creation. Have you never stood in awe while soaking in the spectacular colors splashed across the horizon at sunset? Or stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon as the Colorado River meanders by a full mile below? Or been amazed by the design, function and usefulness of the thumb?

In more recent times, the discovery of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), “a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.” Last summer my wife and I had our DNA tested. From a few drops of spittle, and nothing else, the researchers of my DNA knew exactly where my ancestors came from, and where they migrated in America. And this DNA which is impossible to see without powerful microscopes, contains all the information necessary for my existence.

The Bible asks the rhetorical question: “Is anything too difficult for God?” The answer is No. So, that means if God chose to bring about the salvation of sinful humans, and he wished to demonstrate the full force of his love for us, then would it not stand to reason that he would provide the means by which you and I could be saved?

God chose to pay the price himself. He was willing to sacrifice his own son, Jesus, to open the door for each and every person to receive his forgiveness, and with that, the promise of eternal life with him in heaven forever.

“But we don’t know that to be empirically true,” someone might argue. And I would agree. Neither you nor I saw Jesus during his earthly ministry. But we have written records of those who did see him. Many of these witnesses were so utterly convinced of his death and resurrection that they were willing to die in their firm belief.

Two thousand years of Christians have embraced Jesus Christ, many martyred for their faith in him. You see, those Christians all knew something special. Jesus is not dead. He is not in the tomb. He is alive! And that’s a fact!

When Mary and the other women came to the tomb of Jesus to anoint him in burial, they did not see him. An angel spoke these words of hope to them: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!”

He has risen indeed! Happy Easter!

Monday, March 19, 2018

An Act of Political Courage

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 March 2018
www.chuckroots.com
The Ripon Bulletin

An Act of Political Courage

As an amateur student of history, and in particular American History, I have always been amazed at the manner in which the United States of America came into existence. How were these colonialists of the seventeen hundred’s in what was known then simply as America, able to come together from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and form a more “perfect union”?

In the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, we read these enduring words: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (British spelling of defense), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
What I should like to point out in this Preamble is the focus on the wording. The Founding Fathers purposefully wrote a Constitution that was for all Americans and was intended to last into perpetuity. That means it’s as relevant today in providing America with a basis for rights and liberties as it was the day it was drafted in 1787.

Enjoying the comforts of a prosperous nation such as we have become, fogs the image of embattled patriots encamped against the most powerful monarch in the world at that time (King George III), and the most powerful army, the British Redcoats. Yet fully two-thirds of the colonists were preparing themselves to resist Britain, even if it meant war.

The Constitution was written for the American colonists, but it was also written to King George as a challenge that these colonists who had been mistreated and denigrated as second class British subjects, had had enough. That is not to say that all Americans were wanting to push back against the oppression of the British crown. Some were willing to grovel and fawn before the power of the rule of Britain.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his “Summary View of the Rights of British America” in 1774, these words of challenge that he knew full-well would be read by the king. “Let those flatter, who fear. It is not an American art form.” Americans do not, and will not, ever bow to a head of state, including our own. In fact, George Washington would not hear of being made King of America, as some petitioned. And he had the foresight to recommend for the presidency no more than two four-year terms.   

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The delegates from the original thirteen states set in motion the eventual undoing of slavery with these words, “All men are created equal.” To them, the truths that were self-evident, were truths ordained by God so that the entirety of the human race would recognize that all humans are of one family. To oppose such an understanding, or to treat others as lesser beings, is in direct contradiction to what God had declared in Holy Scripture.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” It’s at this point, these final words of the Declaration of Independence, that the signers on this hallowed document laid everything on the line. The year was 1776, and the Revolutionary War was already underway. In fact, the outcome was in serious doubt.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, all knew what they were getting into. If the colonists should lose the war, then they would be hung, shot, or otherwise dispatched from this earth. The best they could hope for was to be captured, returned to England for a trial and then executed in some hideous manner. The members of the 2nd Continental Congress had been arguing over many issues. Once the Declaration was finished and all agreed to sign it, a comment was made to Benjamin Franklin that they must all hang together in a show of unity. Is said that Franklin responded with this quip: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.”

Though these men were of varying backgrounds, educational levels, even places of birth (some born in Britain, while most were born in America), and though they did not agree on all issues (slavery, for instance), they also realized if they had any chance to be free from the oppressive rule of Britain they must, at all cost, come together in unity. And they did!

The signers of the Declaration were not revealed until January of 1777, following General George Washington’s Christmas victory in the Battle of Trenton (NJ), and in early January, the Battle of Princeton (also NJ).

The Revolutionary War would last until 1783, but the die was cast. The army Washington commanded would indeed defeat the vaunted British crack troops, and America would be reborn as the United States of America, all because a few dozen patriots were willing to give up everything they had in life, including their own lives, to establish for the world the “land of the free, and the home of the brave!”

Monday, March 12, 2018

Warrior Culture

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
12 March 2018
www.chuckroots.com
The Ripon Bulletin

Warrior Culture

Over the expanse of human history, a definite group of people in each society has emerged and remained. This group is often referred to as a “warrior culture.”

A warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based warrior culture society that recognizes a separate warrior class or caste.

There is a strange phenomenon that takes place within cultures that have a warrior culture. When that culture finds itself threatened by outside forces, they turn to the warriors, or army, to confront the foe in order to protect the general populace. Though this warrior class is expected to be prepared to take on all comers, when the battles are over and all has returned to normal, the warriors who have done all the heavy lifting are expected to disappear until needed the next time a threat is on the horizon.

Many of the greatest and most fearsome warrior cultures became more than protectors of their tribe or people group. Often these warriors took advantage of their military power and acumen, becoming predators of the very people they were expected to shield from evil forces.

The United States of America is a rare exception when it comes to establishing and maintaining a warrior culture. When it became evident that the colonists were going to end up doing battle with Great Britain and her vaunted Red Coats, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to establish a standing army. It was on April 19, 1775 that the “Shot heard round the world” was fired during a stand-off between the American “Minutemen” and the British Redcoats on Lexington (Massachusetts) Green. This brief skirmish quickly moved to the next town of Concord, and the American Revolutionary War was underway.  

However, it was not until June 14, 1775 that Congress approved the raising of 10 companies of riflemen to enlist in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia until the end of the Revolutionary War. At the time, this band of warriors was known as the Continental Army but is still regarded as the birthday of the United States Army.

Some months later, the Continental Navy was formed, giving birth on October 13 to what would later become the United States Navy. In all six frigates were commissioned and used for several decades, especially against the pirates from four Muslim African Mediterranean countries preying on ships, stealing cargo, and taking control of the ships for their own use. The sailors were taken prisoner and made slaves on these pirate ships.

The next military force to be birthed was the Continental Marines on November 10, 1775. In a famous watering hole known as Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, the first Marines were recruited to conduct ship-to-ship fighting, provide shipboard security and discipline enforcement, and assist in landing forces. They were known primarily for their exceptional fighting ability.

The United States Coast Guard was established on August 4, 1790, known then as the Revenue Marine. Not until January 28, 1915 was this naval force named the United States Coast Guard.

With the advent of flight, early military fighting forces were part of either the Army, the Navy, or the Marine Corps. Formed initially August 1, 1907, the Army Air Corps became a significant force all in its own, eventually separating from the Army to become the United States Air Force on September 18, 1947.

What makes our military unique in the realm of warriors is that all branches of our military serve at the pleasure of the head of the civilian government – the President of the United States. The President is Constitutionally appointed to be the president of all Americans, but (s)he is the Commander in Chief of every single person serving in the uniform of our military. This was brilliantly thought out by the Founding Fathers so as to deter the threat of mutiny, junta, insurrection, or a military takeover of the civilian government from within the military. The President is the boss over every single general and admiral, period. He can promote them to positions of greater authority and responsibility, or he can fire them.

Another fact that makes our military unique is that we do not wage war or engage in military conflict with the purpose of expanding our reach and power around the world. Some territories have been gained through treaty and purchase. And even land we have won at the expense of American blood on foreign shores we eventually turn the land back over to the original owners. Or if a country which we formerly liberated and where we had military bases decides they don’t want us there any more, we pull out. France is a good example. We saved their bacon in two world wars last century, yet sometime in the 1960s they wanted all of our military bases closed. Same with the Philippines in the 1990s. We even returned the blood-soaked island of Iwo Jima to the Japanese, where more than 6000 Marines were killed toward the end of World War II.

Our military is part of that historical warrior culture, but we who serve or have served, are perfectly content to live in peace. Please remember this. They are not to be feared except by those who are enemies to liberty and freedom.

These are our sons and daughters. May God bless them and the USA!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Where the Blame Is

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
05 March 2018
www.chuckroots.com
The Ripon Bulletin

Where the Blame Is

In light of the tragedy that occurred in Parkland, Florida where 17 high school students were gunned down by a former classmate, I thought I might step into this hot-potato issue. I’ve written before about guns, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and the 2nd Amendment which insures every American the right to self-protection.

In this article I wish to approach this emotionally laden subject from a bit of a different slant. Perhaps you have read about these incidents.

*A man attacked 22 primary school children and an adult, as these children were arriving at school. All 22 children and the adult were injured.

*In another attack, an unemployed middle-aged doctor killed eight children in order to vent his frustration and anger over a thwarted romantic relationship.

*Yet another man broke into a middle school, injuring two students before fleeing the scene.

*Still another man attacked 1st and 2nd grade students, injuring eight. His actions were caught on security cameras, charging after children in order to hurt or kill them.

These are just a few of the stories I found, and they are chilling. You may be thinking, “Where did these horrible attacks occur?” The answer is: China, from 2010-2014. And there are more, many more such stories. But you get the point. And did I mention that not once was a gun used? In every instance, a knife, a machete, or a meat cleaver was used to injure and kill students.

Oh, but the politicians in Washington DC, assure us that such horrific attacks occur only in the United States. And, after all, guns are the real problem, they say. And isn’t the common denominator, whether in China or the U.S., that all the attackers are males!

Is getting rid of guns going to stop these horrible crimes? No. Is confiscating all sharp objects going to make the children in China safer? No. Since all the attackers were males, then just kill off all males! That’s what King Herod of Israel did in ordering the murder of all the baby boys two-years old and under in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus.

A reality that far too many folks ignore or refuse to deal with today is that there is evil in this old world. Granted, some of these situations are caused by a person who is clearly not right in their head. They need professional help. But in way too many other situations, it is simply a matter of a person choosing to commit an act of pure, unadulterated evil.

But why would anyone who is normal in every other way, choose to perpetrate such a heinous crime on children, or on anyone? Because they can, that’s why.

America, and to a larger extent, the world, has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box. How have we done this, you ask? Let me give you three ways, though there are certainly more.

First, as a nation, America agreed that God was no longer essential or wanted in our nation. Many of you will remember when the Supreme Court of the United States authorized the removal of prayer from our public schools in 1962. Bad idea.

Second, the value and sanctity of human life was dealt a devastating blow when, again, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of abortion on demand through the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision. Another bad idea.

Third, the pampering and molly-coddling of our youth. Many are afraid of their own shadow, needing safe spaces, and teddy bears to comfort them from the evil that people do. They are ripe for attack from bullies who see them as easy prey.

So, here’s my proposal: Let’s invite the Lord God back into our lives, our schools, our society. Let’s recapture the respect for one another that the Bible clearly teaches. Let’s revisit this antiquated idea that we should fear God. Why? Because every single person will one day be presented before God to give an account of their life. Our actions will ultimately speak louder than our excuses.

Why were there no such awful crimes against children when I was in elementary school during the 1950s? Because there was still a very strong fear of God and his judgment which prevented many people from choosing to do evil against others. They feared punishment from society and from God.

And it’s past time to begin toughening up our young people. Life isn’t often easy. And it isn’t often fair. But we are not doing the next generation any favors by attempting to remove all the bad things that could happen. There are great lessons to be learned through adversity and conflict. I was often picked on because I was short as a kid. Every so often I would get into a fist-fight with the guy bullying me. One thing always happened whether I won the fight or not. The bully quit picking on me. And sometimes we even became friends.

I have more to say on this, but it will have to wait.

Psalm for the Day