Marines.Together We Served

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The War on Christians

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
26 December 2016

The War on Christians

Please bear with me on this article. I have wrestled over writing on this particular topic for the simple reason that it can easily be misunderstood and misconstrued.  

What I am about to present is not new. In fact, it is an old story dating back to the persecution of Jews (Hebrews) several thousand years ago. Many Christians would like to believe such persecution of believers is only occurring in isolated areas around the world, but certainly not here in America! The truth is Christians are an ever-growing target for all sorts of groups.

The Islamic faith makes no bones about being at war with Christians, as well as their intent to wipe out all Jews and Christians. While in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf on military assignment, I decided to request a visit with a Muslim cleric (an Imam) in order to hear about their beliefs first hand. We discussed many things during the hour or so that we met. The cleric gave me several books on Islam, which included a copy of the Koran in English.

Later, when I had time to study the Koran without interruption, I discovered that there was a very troubling verse in the first Surah. These seven verses are to be memorized by every Muslim, and is recited during the calls to prayer. Verses 6&7 reads, “Guide us to the Straight Path; the Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace (those who follow the Prophet Mohammed), not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” This was taken from, The Noble Qur’an, an English translation of the meanings and commentary. I have three different copies of the Koran, so to be fair, the only version that pinpoints Jews and Christians in the footnotes from the seventh verse is the version the Imam gave to me. Muslims believe that they are to conquer the world for Islam. Make no mistake: This is their goal.

Another group that is targeting Christians is atheists. To be clear, atheists are often defined as, “People who do not believe in God.” This is incorrect. Atheists don’t believe in God (or any god) because a true atheist believes there is no God to believe in. The word atheist is a Greek word literally meaning: “No God.” These folks are organized and are working very hard to disrupt any expression of the Christian faith, specifically, so as to cause people to see Christians as hateful, intolerant, bigoted, and a host of other negative descriptions in an attempt to discredit those who would follow Jesus. Much damage has been done by atheists in the academic, political, and medical fields. There are attempts, some successful, in removing any reference to Christ or the Christian faith in the founding of America and the subsequent emergence of the United States from school books and text books. In the medical field, the value of human life has been assaulted – particularly the unborn. Abortion is the tragic outcome of reducing humans to animals, instead of recognizing that each one of us is the handiwork of God.

And a third group that is at war with Christians are those who typically look for a scapegoat to blame for the ills of a nation or the world. The finger is frequently pointed at Christians as the culprits for whatever ills are being experienced in a country or across the globe. This was a common approach by the Romans in their quest to rid the Roman Empire of Christians and their witness for Jesus. The Emperor, Nero, had Rome burned, and then placed the blame on Christians, who were rounded up and thrown in the arenas for sport. Today, you can hear on the news how Christians are being blamed for the troubles America is having with Islamic terrorists. “If only Christians wouldn’t be so exclusionary,” these accusers say, “then we could all get along with Muslims, and they would like us.” If only that were true! The fault for the recent attacks by Muslims across Europe and here in the United States is laid at the feet of Christians. This is simply a “Roman Redux.”

So, here’s my antidote for all this Christian blaming. First, stop being so surprised when you’re attacked for your faith in Jesus. Did Jesus not say this would happen? Yes, of course he did. Second, be open about your faith in Jesus. Nothing is more powerful than a solid reason for your faith. The church in America became rather timid following World War II. There was a concerted onslaught against our secular and religious beliefs from the Mainstream Media, Hollywood, and a Democrat Party that has clearly lost its way. I mentioned a few months ago why I could not vote for Hillary Clinton or any Democrat. My differences of belief with Democrat positions and policy notwithstanding, I was appalled to witness the Democrat National Convention in 2014 vote to exclude God, or any reference to God, from their Platform. I watched this travesty in fascination and horror, as thousands of Democrat delegates, by voice vote, let it be known that God was not to be included in any of their doings.

Speak of your love for Jesus up with a holy boldness, telling others how much Jesus loves them, and what Jesus has done in your life. After all, you are God’s messenger.

The war on Christians will last until Jesus comes back. As a follower of my Savior, I am instructed from his Word, the Bible, to use the weapons that are spiritual in fighting back in this war. Those spiritual weapons are Prayer and the Word. Train hard, Christian!

Monday, December 19, 2016

You Should Celebrate Christmas

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 December 2016

You Should Celebrate Christmas

I suspect you are asking yourself the question, challenging my titled statement above, “Why should I celebrate Christmas?”

Granted there are innumerable reasons why some folks choose not to celebrate Christmas. I will list a few to which you may add many more. “I don’t believe in Santa Claus or Jesus.” “It has become too commercialized.” “Christmas is just the Christian religion’s attempt to have a religious holiday to counter the ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia with its riotousness and orgiastic behavior.”  And then there are those grumpy, curmudgeonly, Scroogelike characters who respond to a cheerful greeting of Merry Christmas with “Bah! Humbug!” However, that is not the focus of this article. Instead, this article is about why you should celebrate Christmas.

Man is religious by nature. What I mean by that is human beings function in such a way that they must and will find something or someone to worship; to focus their love and attention upon. We really can’t help it. Our first objects of love and affection are our mothers and fathers. Because they shower us with nurturing and care we freely show them our pleasure with smiles, cooing, and a constant display of happiness. As growing children, we still want and need the attention of parents and their involvement in our lives. Parents who are loving and compassionate do more to open the eyes of their children to the possibility of accepting the belief in God than anything else. If that element is missing, the child will then search for something else to focus on. That can be a school teacher, a coach, a youth pastor, belonging to a gang, or, worst of all, becoming self-absorbed. There is no more pathetic individual than a person who becomes narcissistic. Other people are of no importance to this person. This person worships themselves above all else.

Man adheres to the principle of fairness. This value alone emerges practically from the moment we emerge from our mother’s womb. We don’t like being thrust into this new environment. I’d rather be back in my close, warm cocoon. And so it goes when they are hungry, or need a diaper change, or want to sleep, etc. Crying is their way of telling parents that they are falling down on the job. It’s not fair the way they’re being treated. Then comes the time they realize a sibling may get preferential treatment. When our girls were small, they would complain that the other one got a bigger slice of cake. I fixed that problem by having the older one cut two pieces of cake. Then the younger one got to pick which piece she wanted. It was hilarious watching them measure out the slices to make sure one didn’t get one crumb more than the other. Throughout life we lean strongly toward this issue of fairness.

Man yearns for justice. Once again, this is something we humans long for. Life is so full of uncertainty and evil doing that deep within our soul there is the anguished cry demanding justice for the wrongs that have been done. We create more and more laws to push back against those who would disrupt our lives with bad behavior. In an attempt at fairness for everyone, we require those who do bad things to be held accountable. Whether it’s being sent to our room, or being sent to the “Big House”, some action is required to satisfy the need for justice. Even with a death penalty in place and the wrong-doer is executed, the egregiousness of their action is not satisfied even with their death. Ask any family who has had a loved one murdered, or violently assaulted. To assuage this need for justice, Texas has had a law on the books for a long time. It’s called the “He needed killing” law. It was a defense for those who took the life of someone doing severe harm to another.

At this point you may be wondering what all this has to do with Christmas. Well, everything!

The focus and purpose of Christmas is God responding to these three basic concerns of man: 1) We will worship someone or something, 2) We demand fairness, and 3) We cry out for justice.

It is God who knows we have fallen well short of our potential as being created in his image and likeness. Sin has marred and distorted our perception of worship, fairness and justice.

It is this next part that staggers my thinking. God chose to correct this problem by becoming a man just like us, living amongst us, exposing himself to the dangers and sinful thoughts and actions of men. Any cursory reading of Jesus’ life on earth in the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will clearly demonstrate that Jesus was no mere mortal. As God’s son, he worshipped the only person or thing worthy of such a reverence. As God’s son, he endured the unfairness of life as meted out by evil men, including his death on a cross. And as God’s son, he promised there would be a day of reckoning when all wrongs would be made right. I don’t know how that will be done, but God says he’ll do it, and that’s good enough for me.

So regardless of arguments against celebrating Christmas, this much I know. God loves you and me. He sent his son into the world to pay the price for our sins and man’s fallen condition. And he’s promised us that by placing our faith and trust in his, we will live forever with him forever, far removed from what we have experienced in this world.

So, I say, “Thank you, God, for sending us your Son!” This is why you should celebrate. This is why it is always a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

One More Time

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
12 December 2016

One More Time

Well, the events following the presidential election last month come as no surprise. In fact, I mentioned in one of my articles leading up to the election that there would be a call from somewhere in the political hallways of Congress to repeal the Constitution’s establishment of the Electoral College vote in favor of the more popular “Popular Vote.”

Sure enough, the dust hadn’t even settled from the November 7th ballot counting and already members of Congress were squawking about the unfairness of the election. A political commentary from CNBC trumpets, “Democrats and Left Wing activists are loudly calling to repeal the Electoral College.” The argument that has been put forth goes something like this: Hillary has won the Popular Vote by two-and-a-half million votes over Donald Trump. Therefore, she should be the next president. This same approach was touted by Al Gore in his failed bid for the White House in 2000, garnering more Popular Votes than George W. Bush.

The U.S. Presidential Election has never been a Popular Vote at any time in our 240-year history. Hopefully it never will be. The Founding Fathers intentionally steered our new republic away from popularity voting. High school class presidents were almost entirely about the popularity of the individual running for office. Our Founding Fathers thought this to be a bad formula for electing the president of our country.

The question is still asked, “Why do we have the Electoral College?” The answer comes from a clear understanding of the Constitution.The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.”

In a rather clever word picture attempting to show how the Popular Vote works, it is likened to two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. In a Popular Vote (used in a Direct Democracy) the wolves win every time. Whereas in an Electoral College system (used in a Representative Republic) the vote of the lamb is intended to offset the majority vote (50.1%) by leveraging their vote and the vote of the wolves through a representative which is designed to balance out the direct power of majority rule.

If the two candidates running for president had been solely interested in garnering the highest numbers in the Popular Vote, then they would have spent their time in densely populated areas, like Chicago, New York, City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so on. Folks in Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and generally throughout “fly-over country” would have little to no influence on the outcome of an election. The reason Hillary Clinton has been ahead in the Popular Vote by a couple of million votes is because she won the five boroughs that make up New York City. The boroughs are: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island (A borough is an incorporated municipality smaller than a city). The sheer numbers of people living in this cramped and congested area ballooned her Popular Vote numbers past Trump, giving her the clear edge in the overall Popular Vote.

But consider this: Hillary won the District of Columbia and only 20 of the 50 states. Now, furthermore, if you want to break this down into who won more counties, then the comparison between Hillary and “The Donald” becomes very clear. There are 3,141 counties in the United States. Donald Trump won 3,084 counties. Hillary Clinton won 57 counties. Did you get that?

Here is why the Electoral College is critical to our nation’s political system. If you believe that every person’s vote should count, then the Electoral College system established in the Constitution deserves to be vigorously defended against those who would throw it out, only to be replaced by the Popular Vote.

For instance: in Loving County, Texas, the population is 82. That’s right! A mere eighty-two people. In Los Angeles County, California, the population is 9.8 million. Each county has an equal vote.

Do you see why Hillary with 20 states and 57 counties nationwide has won the Popular Vote? She managed to succeed in the most heavily populated areas of urban America.

When you cast a vote for your choice of president, you are actually voting for an elector, a representative, to vote on your behalf. “There were no political parties when the Constitution was written. They soon developed, and the party organizations in each state began proposing a slate, or list, of electors who were pledged to vote for their party's nominee. Voters no longer choose individual electors. Voters choose between party slates. Political parties want winner-take-all elections for electors. This means that the slate that receives the most popular votes wins all the state's electoral votes. All the states except Maine use this winner-take-all system today.”

The Electoral College has a total of 538 electors, consisting of the number of delegates to Congress from each state. Each member of the House of Representatives, and each states’ two Senators cast a vote. The first presidential candidate to reach or surpass 270 electoral votes is the new president-elect.

Next time you hear someone complain that their vote doesn’t really count, you can show them that it really does count. In the 2000 election, George Bush won 271 electoral votes, to Al Gore’s 267. That means a few votes in a couple of counties may well have made the difference.

The Founding Fathers were brilliant in developing this never-before election system. It must be protected if the United States is to remain the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.

God Bless America!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

A Civil War Christmas

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
5 December 2016

A Civil War Christmas

The American Civil War, despite its savagery and enormous loss of life, still was the cause for many changes to our nation, which has been largely forgotten in the historical telling.

The celebration of Christmas during wartime is always interesting, and particularly so during horrific encounters between the Union and Confederate forces during this nineteenth century four-year societal carnage.

The thought that first comes to mind is: Christmas is a time of celebration, a reminder of God’s intervention in the world of man to bring peace with God through Jesus, to give and receive gifts and cards with family and friends alike, and a time to gather with family around a table loaded with sumptuous quantities of food and conversation. Yet, we’re engaged in a war of attrition, killing off our countrymen, and even family members, at a frightening pace. How could Christmas be enjoyed in the midst of this hellish war?

As it turns out, we humans have an amazing adaptability, especially during the most traumatic and stressful of times.

Christmas was a well-established special time of the year in the United States leading up to the start of the Civil War. However, the war itself would cause many to reflect on its continued recognition and enjoyment. Both Northerners and Southerners made the most of this special day throughout the war, even though battles and military maneuvers continued unabated. In 1870, five years after the war ended, then President Ulysses S. Grant made it official that Christmas would henceforth be a national holiday, in part in an attempt to further heal the rift that still festered between North and South.

Ever wonder how the image of a jolly fat man with rosy red cheeks, an expansive girth, and a bright red suit of clothes came about? Once again, the Civil War takes center stage. One Thomas Nast, an editorial cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, was asked by the editor, Fletcher Harper, to make a drawing for the Christmas edition which hit the streets January 3, 1863. Nast had a complete mental block as to how to go about fulfilling his assignment. He spent an evening with his school teacher sister who was visiting him for Christmas, where they reminisced about the Santa character, known as Pelznikel from their native Germany. Later that evening Nast had the inspiration for the cover for the paper. Santa was center stage in the drawing, visiting soldiers in the field, handing them presents. This began the evolution of the Santa character to what we have today.

Tom Nast did something a bit different for the Christmas edition of Harper’s Weekly in 1864. The end of the war was coming to a close, with the North victorious after the long and bloody conflict. The title of the article was, “The Union Christmas Dinner.” The drawing showed an openhearted President Lincoln extending his arms to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee, welcoming them back into the fold of the United States.

Another Civil War addition to Christmas had to do primarily with decorating the Christmas tree. Hanging items on the tree was nothing new, for this had been done for many years. However, due to shortages, and lack of decorative items due to the demands of wartime, creativity took over as men in their camps would hang such items as were available. This even included hardtack (what sailors called a ship biscuit), a tough, durable, saltless biscuit that had a nearly endless shelf life. Often, soldiers would receive trinkets or other items from home which would end up on their unit’s Christmas tree. The men were encouraged to add items to the tree that were more colorful, in hopes of brightening the spirits of the men in an otherwise dreary and drab setting.

One soldier wrote his thoughts on Christmas Eve in a lengthy poem, entitled, “Christmas Night of ‘62”. William Gordon McCabe, a Confederate, was in a melancholy mood, clearly wishing for a return to hearth and home. Did he survive the war and return home? I don’t know. But you can sense his yearning, as all who wear the uniform of our country so yearn when far away from home during Christmas.

“My thoughts go wandering to and fro,

vibrating ‘twixt the Now and Then;

I see the low-browed home again,

the old hall wreathed in mistletoe.

“And fairly from the far-off years

comes borne the laughter faint and low,

the voices of the Long Ago!

My eyes are wet with tender tears.

“I feel again the mother kiss,

I see again the glad surprise

that lighted up the tranquil eyes

and brimmed them o’re with tears of bliss.

“As, rushing from the old hall-door,

she fondly clasped her wayward boy –

Her face all radiant with joy

she felt to see him home once more.”