Sunday, January 31, 2010
Pat Robertson & the Haiti Curse – Reprise
Lolo vs. Pat….a big misunderstanding???
Well kind of figures… but less than 12 hours after making the last post I was driving to work, listening to NPR ....
(Now I know some of you are freaking out and / or surprised about this….let me speak to those of you freaked out Conservatives first – (Liberals don’t read this) – I was just listening so that I know what the enemy camp is thinking. Don’t worry I’m still conservative to the core! ........ For those of you who were surprised by the comment – (Conservatives don’t read this) – hey just cause I fall a little right of center doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally enjoy a different, more enlightened perspective, right???
Well anyway, as I listened to the story on Haiti I quickly realized that by and large I’d pretty much missed the most crucial point of the whole controversy in my last post.
Oh well….let me try again.
The story can be found here
The story is about 5 minutes long and is done by a reporter named John Bennett and it covers his visit and interview with one of Haiti’s most famous music stars. 52 year old Lolo Beaubrun who leads a group called Boukman Eksperyens. (pronounced - experience)
In the interview Lolo describes the group’s music as a mix between rock, reggae, and voodoo ceremonial trance music. The name of the group is a take off of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and a tribute to Duti Boukman, the voodoo high priest and slave leader who led a voodoo ceremony in 1791 that is considered by many to be the beginning of the Haitian slave rebellion against the French. (OK – regardless of what you think about Pat Robertson, to hear those words come from an NPR reporter as …matter of fact… establishes in my mind that Pat Robertson wasn’t totally off the deep end, at least in the background of his comments.)
Toward the end of the interview (if you listen to it) you will hear Bennett ask Lolo Beaubrun about Pat Robertson’s comment – (ie that the earthquake was a result of the Haitian’s alleged "pact with the devil" made in order to overthrow the French.)
Lolo responds with this comment:
“I don’t believe in that God he’s talking about. God is love, truth and justice….”
Upon hearing that, I realized that Lolo, John Bennett, and perhaps many millions of others had totally misunderstood Robertson’s comment.
Based on Lolo’s remark I took his understanding of Pat Robertson’s comment to be the following.
Since the Haitian’s had made a pact with the devil, God has been mad at them, and has been causing all this bad stuff to happen to them ever since. Hence, Lolo says, no, no, no, God is love, truth, and justice, and therefore would not carry out such destruction and punishment on the innocent Haitian people of today. In other words, the God Robertson believes in is mean, vengeful, and nasty, and not a god of love.
I think this is also why so many Christians jumped up and said Pat Robertson is terrible for saying such a thing….our God would never do such an evil thing.
Well my understanding of Robertson’s comment is totally different.
Here’s what I think he meant.
Point 1 – the Haitians made a pact with the devil in order to get out from under the harsh control of the French. (The fact that the rebellion was immediately preceded by a voodoo ceremony, as chronicled by many different sources, including NPR’s John Bennett seems to at least lend some credence to this statement.) If indeed a voodoo ceremony was carried out, then most Christian theologians would not think a stretch to characterize such a ceremony as a pact with the devil.
Point 2 – If (again I say if) a pact was made with the devil to help the Haitians overthrow the French then, again, it’s not much of a stretch to understand that the Haitian’s in essence put themselves into the hands of the devil. (A parallel might be a Christian who says, “Lord I give my life to you, I’ll serve you, please do with me what you will.”) The only problem is – there’s a big difference in putting yourself in God’s hands, and putting yourself into the devil’s hands.
Point 3 – So here – in essence – is what I think Pat Robertson was saying. By entering into a pact with the devil, the Haitian people turned themselves, and their future, and their fate over to the devil. Therefore it is the devil, not God who has caused their endless run of “bad luck” for the past 220 years.
The Title of the article from which I quoted in the last post sums up this misunderstanding well: Is God Punishing Haiti? Again, this same sentiment is expressed in Lolo Beaubrun’s comment, “I don’t believe in that god. God is love, truth and justice.”
My understanding of Pat Robertson’s comment is not that God is mad at the Haitians for serving the devil and is therefore punishing them. Rather, if you decide to serve, make a pact with, (do anything with) the devil, then you’re undoubtedly in for a rough time.
As Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief came to steal, kill, and destroy, but I come that you may have life and have it in abundance.”
Our prayer should be that the nation of Haiti would turn to the one who has promised life in abundance.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Okay – time for a return to sensationalism in the blogoshpere….
This is where I write about something and everyone who knows me wrings their collective hands and says, “Oh – no! Surely he doesn’t really think that! I always thought he was too intelligent, too enlightened, too sensitive, too sophisticated, too etc…. to hold such a bourgeois opinion…”
Ah…. the expectations we so often feel compelled to honor….well at any rate, here we go.
The following are excerpts from the weekly news magazine “The Week”, Jan 29, 2010
As news broke of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Pat Robertson said on his TV show that Haitians themselves were to blame because of a pact Haiti’s founders made with the devil.
“It’s no secret that the Rev. Pat Robertson is a yammering fool,” said Carl Hiaasen in The Miami Herald, “but last week he hit a new low.”
(My, how do you really feel Carl?)
Robertson’s remark was not only heartless, said Peter Wehner in National Review Online. It failed to “correspond with any serious understanding of Christianity.” The Christian faith, at its heart, is about mercy in this world and redemption in the next. Only in Robertson’s distorted imagination would an angry Christian God dish out misery to an island full of innocents, to punish them for the supposed heresy of their great-great-great-grandfathers.
(Oh my Peter…might I reference you to a book called the Bible? Care to check out Deut 28, and then read through the books of 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Lamentations. After you do, I’d love the opportunity to discuss some of the “serious understandings" of Christianity with which you are familiar.)
Robertson’s interpretation of events was admittedly “obnoxious,” said Elizabeth McAlister in Forbes.com, but interpreting the unfathomable is a preacher’s job. The purpose of religion is “to make sense out of chaos,” to discern and reveal “the unseen forces that cause things to be the way they are.”
The great irony here is that while Robertson’s remarks have outraged people here in the States, many Haitians have long suspected that there are supernatural underpinnings to the island’s horrible run of bad luck. And according to mainstream Haitian lore, said Eric Metaxas in FoxNews.com, the country’s founders really did hold a voodoo ceremony at which they slaughtered a pig and “made a pact with the devil.” No one knows whether or not the myth is true, of course, but is it so outrageous of Pat Robertson to suggest that “starting a nation this way might not be the best approach?”
(Well now…..that’s a different take…)
Okay, is it safe to talk about this stuff yet????
Probably not, but those conventions have never stopped me before. I was certainly lambasted on Twitter when I continually asked someone to explain to me why the remarks were so offensive, right after he made them.
Before discussing this point any further though why not spend one minute and 16 seconds (1 min 16 sec) and listen to exactly what he said.
Additionally here is the CBN Press release regarding Pat Robertson’s comments:
– VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., January 13, 2010 -- On today’s The 700 Club, during a segment about the devastation, suffering and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history. His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed. Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.
Spokesman for CBN
So where does all this leave us?
Well for starters…. He said that the Haitians need to have a great turning to God and that we should pray that in for them. Additionally, he said that we should pray for them, and that we should help the suffering people in Haiti. Personally I’m still struggling to find something in his statement that’s offensive.
(Twitter followers please don’t freak on me again J)
Let’s face it friends, you either believe the Bible or you don’t. The Bible teaches way more about the devil, and the reality of evil than most people want to know, confront, or face. But if you do, then you realize that we’re assured of victory – if that is - we put your faith in Jesus Christ. The problem is that if you don’t put your faith in Jesus Christ then the truth is that you are vulnerable to the power of the devil. And that is (in my opinion) why half the world freaked out when Rev. Pat Robertson made his comments.
(How dare someone suggest that there are consequences for not serving the true and living God!)
See so much of the “Populist Christian doctrine” that is spouted in the media (and unfortunately in some churches) today says that God is really nice and there’s probably not really any devil, and well, when bad stuff happens we can’t really understand it, and more importantly we better not really try to understand it, because if we do then we might offend someone, and that’s insensitive, and blah, blah, blah….. The problem is, that approach doesn’t help people.
Rather I would suggest the approach Jesus took. Jesus forgave all who sinned. Jesus had mercy on all who came to him. Jesus healed all who were sick. Jesus loved everyone……and yet….. He also pointed out injustice, pointed out evil, and corrected those who were wrong, and pointed them toward what was right.
Rather than freaking out at the insensitivity of Pat Robertson’s remarks, why not consider if there is any truth in them first?
Finally, it would be interesting to know exactly how much direct aid Pat Robertson and his organization have provided to the people of Haiti, and then compare that directly to the amount of aid that the freaked out journalists quoted above have given to the people of Haiti. We may never know the answer to that, but that’s okay…….because Jesus knows.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
To Kindle or not to Kindle
…a P.S. to your Christmas shopping…
Buy anybody anything from Amazon this year for Christmas?
I don’t know about you but every time I was on Amazon's home page there were very large ads for the Kindle. Looks like they were making a huge holiday push….Hope they were successful!
So do you have one? Do you know anyone who does? Everyone I know who has one has been very enthusiastic as they describe its virtues! Almost a little too enthusiastic if you ask me....you know, as in - "Me think she doth protest too much."
Anyway this is not a post to expound on the virtues of the Kindle (if there are any), nor is it one to expound on the Kindle’s shortcomings (if there are any). I simply thought I’d relay a story that any seasoned air traveler might enjoy.
Recently after boarding a domestic flight I began my own "preflight routine" of stashing my Ipod, ensuring my laptop was stowed - yet within reach, and getting out the book I was currently reading. I then looked across the aisle (it was easy since my profile is always aisle seating) and I noticed the lady across from me engrossed in her own pre-flight routine which included reading a book on her Kindle and, well, that was about it. I decided to add conversation to this particular pre-flight routine for her, so I asked…
“How do you like that Kindle?”
“Excuse me?” She replied, trying her best to convey that I was interrupting her and she didn’t appreciate it.
“Your Kindle, how do you like it,” I repeated.
“Oh I love it. It’s really wonderful,” she replied with little emotion.
“How long have you had it?”
“About 6 months now,” she said with a slight smile, quickly resuming her reading, as if trying to communicate that she was on a strict reading timeline and I was interrupting it.
Now, not one to be put off by the polite rebuff when blog research is in the mix, I continued.
“How many books can you put on that thing?”
“How many books does your Kindle hold?”
“Oh I’m not sure exactly, several thousand I’m think.“
“Really? Wow, that’s pretty good. Sure beats lugging a thousand books around with you I guess.”
She nodded knowingly with what I’m pretty sure was the most imperceptible glance at the antiquated paperback in my lap.
“So how many books do you actually have downloaded on it right now?” I continued, knowing that I should be ashamed of myself since I would have had to be completely blind to miss her body language.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” she asked again, her smile becoming increasingly fake.
“How many books do you have downloaded on your Kindle right now?” I asked again, enunciating each word very carefully.
“I don’t know, probably ten or fifteen right now,” she answered, smiling only with her lips now, and almost immediately going back to her reading.
I thought of several ways to continue my all important blog research but fearing either a direct physical attack, or at the very least a TSA report for suspicious behavior, I refrained, and instead went back to my own preflight routine – which by this time was quite a mess, since the guy who had squeezed past me for the window seat seemed to have taken full ownership of the empty seat between us, something I knew I would now have to fight for throughout the rest of the flight. (….but that’s another post)
Anyway this story continued when the flight attendant (for those of you who haven’t flown for years – that’s the same as a stewardess) made the announcement to power-down all electronic devices – (again, that means turn them off). Well a few minutes later I noticed my new friend still engrossed in her Kindle. Of course from experience I knew what was about to happen.
“Ma’am I need you to power that down immediately or we won’t be able to push back from the gate, for an on time departure,” the Flight Attendant said firmly, as well as loud enough at least half the plane to hear as she came down the aisle for her final check.
“Oh, yeah....uh... sorry,” my new friend mumbled trying her best to appear startled that she had somehow violated TSA rules by ignoring the express orders of a flight attendant. (She clearly realized that she was now at my mercy for a TSA report!)
I resisted the urge to stare at her and say, “Ha, ha – you got in trouble!!!” Somehow I didn’t think she’d find my comments amusing.
Anyway, what I saw next was the best commentary on the Kindle I can give you right now - at least as it refers to air travel. As she “powered-down” her Kindle, and “stowed it for take-off”, I noticed she suddenly seemed unsure what to do. From my peripheral vision I saw her glancing up and down the aisle. She looked out the window for a few moments, and then finally, as a last resort, she did what I’m afraid every Kindle user must ultimately resort to during the 25 + minutes of "taxi and take off" - and then again during the 25 + minutes of "landing and taxi back to the gate" - during those dark moments when no electronic or digital devices are permitted. Yes you guessed it - in fact I bet you knew all along this was inevitably where this story must end. She pulled the good old Sky Mall magazine from the pocket of the seat back in front of her and began leafing through it. (Undoubtedly coming across an ad for a $200, off-brand digital book reader as she did.)
I on the other hand opened my paperback, all the while enjoying the tactile pleasure of a dead tree in my hands and read.....well....just exactly what I wanted to read.
This ends the commentary on all things Kindle.
Now- had I been truly prepared for this situation, I would have pulled an autographed copy of The Second Trumpet, from my backpack and offered it to her for her personal reading pleasure during the 50+ minutes of non-Kindle time she was about to endure.
Nonetheless….if you are already are an avid Kindle user do not despair, The Second Trumpet is available from Amazon as an ebook that you can actually order at the same time you order your Kindle! Or if you prefer the feel of a dead tree in your hands check it out here.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Motivational Speakers – A house of cards….
Part 1 of the Series: Stolen……or at least borrowed…
I had the opportunity to attend a business seminar recently, and like many similar seminars I’ve attended over the years this one kicked off with remarks by a motivational speaker. If you’ve ever been to one of these meetings you know that the Motivational Speaker is usually not content or industry specific to the actual meeting, but rather is tasked with getting the crowd (attendees) fired up before the “tech-talks” begin. I’ve been privileged to listen to many highly paid and successful motivational speakers over the years (and a few who weren’t). I can say that about 85% of them actually are very effective at motivating you.
I had sort of an epiphany this time though.
The Speaker's comments were nearly as good as her presentation skills – which were excellent! Her multimedia presentation was first class and very engaging, and at the end of the talk I really did feel uplifted, motivated and excited to get-on with the rest of the sessions. I shook her hand during the break and told her how much I appreciated her words of wisdom, and during this brief interaction I noticed two things. First, I noticed the small gold cross she wore around her neck and second, I noticed that during our conversation she had indicated that she was, “blessed.”
Now many of you will recognize those words as the “Underground Code-words" of modern day Christians in the workforce. The words, “I’m blessed”, or “be blessed” are frequently used to covertly communicate, “Hey, I’m a Christian, so if you want to start talking Christian stuff it’s OK – I won’t lodge a formal complaint against you with Corporate HR for proselytizing in the workplace…”
Anyway, I did "coyly" ask, as I was stepping away, if she were a “believer” – another good underground word used in the dangerous world of corporate America that contains within itself - enough plausible deniability to keep even the most devout Christian from being dragged before the Anti-Christian Thought Police Division of many Fortune 500 Company’s Corporate HR departments.
"You asked them if they were a believer didn't you! Admit it!"
"Uh, uh, uh, I meant were they a believer in our latest corporate earnings report!!! Please leave me alone!!!!"
See - plausible deniability...
(Now on a side note - I know many of you are freaking out because you think I’m giving away some of our most closely guarded code words – but fear not!!! I’ll write a different post later coming up with some new code words and symbols that we Christians can use to communicate in the work place. I was actually thinking about maybe drawing half of a fish on a piece of paper and letting the other person finish it in order to prove that they were a Christian….but more on that later – I don’t want to give away all the secrets!)
Well back to my epiphany. After realizing that the speaker was a Christian I thought back to what she’d said. – Here’s a very short, very general, and very un-eloquent version:
Be nice to your customers, be nice to your co-workers, be nice to your boss, be nice to your employees, and be nice to everyone with whom you come into contact. The corollary to all that was be polite to all of these people too, even if they are not polite to you. She then went onto say don’t judge people just because they look different than you think they should look, and then, she ended by saying don’t try to manipulate people to get them to do what you want them to do. She tied all this together by saying that if you act by these tenets you will actually be more successful, get more done, and enjoy it much more while you’re doing it.
Now again – she took an hour to say all that, and she was much more eloquent as she worked hard to get us to believe that even in evil corporate America, this was still the best way to do business. And I will admit – I came away happy, fired up, and filled with the belief that she was right.
But after I figured out - through her secret use of code words - that she was none other than a worshipper of Jehovah! – I began to reevaluate her message. Hmmmmm. Where had I heard these things before? Why did all of this sound so strangely familiar?
And then I hit upon it!
And when I did the whole conspiratorial house of cards that motivational speakers are came crashing down around us both!
Her message came from none other than the Bible!
Not only was her message based on basic Biblical teaching but I began to consider other motivational speakers I’d heard. What had they said????
Be open to the thoughts of others even if you don’t respect them...you never know when you'll get a real gem...
Treat all people with respect even if you don’t feel like respecting them...it will pay off in the end...
Share….don’t be paranoid and afraid…..
If you follow these principles in your business you’ll be successful….
My goodness! I realized that people had written entire books based on these principles that were all clearly enumerated in the Bible, sold them to millions of business people and made tons of money!!!! In fact, find me one “motivational book” that didn’t take it’s major theme from the book of Proverbs and I’ll reward you with a valuable prize!!!!
So the jig is up! I’m onto you motivational speakers! And if you agree to pay me huge sums of money I won’t pass this entire post onto all of the CEOs in the entire world!!!
All right – so now that I’ve established that motivational speakers have stolen their work from the Bible - Stay tuned for more posts about what else has been stolen from Christians…You may be surprised!