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The Last Cab Ride

The Last Cab Ride

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.
After waiting a few minutes I walked to the
Door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a
Frail, elderly voice. I could hear something
Being dragged across the floor.

After
A long pause, the door opened. A small woman in
Her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a
Print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned
On it, like somebody out of a 1940’s Movie.

By her side was a small nylon
Suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had
Lived in it for years. All the furniture was
Covered with sheets.

There were no
Clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils
On the counters. In the corner was a cardboard
Box filled with photos and
Glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag
Out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase
To the cab, then returned to assist the
Woman.

She took my arm and we walked
Slowly toward the curb.

She kept
Thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I
Told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers
The way I would want my mother
Treated.

‘Oh, you’re such a good
Boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave
Me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive
Through downtown?’

‘It’s not the
Shortest way,’ I answered
Quickly..

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she
Said . ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a
Hospice…

I looked in the rear-view
Mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have
Any family left,’ she continued in a soft
Voice.. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very
Long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the
Meter.

‘What route would you like me
To take?’ I asked.

For the next two
Hours, we drove through the city. She showed me
The building where she had once worked as an
Elevator
Operator.

We drove through the
Neighborhood where she and her husband had lived
When they were newlyweds She had me pull up in
Front of a furniture warehouse that had once
Been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a
Girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow
In front of a particular building or corner and
Would sit staring into the darkness, saying
Nothing..

As the first hint of sun was
Creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m
Tired.. Let’s go now’.

We drove in
Silence to the address she had given me. It was
A low building, like a small convalescent home,
With a driveway that passed under a
Portico.

Two orderlies came out to
The cab as soon as we pulled up. They were
Solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.

I
Opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to
The door. The woman was already seated in a
Wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’
She asked, reaching into her
Purse.

‘Nothing,’ I Said

‘You have to make a living,’ she Answered.

‘There are other Passengers,’ I responded.

Almost
Without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She
Held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an
Old woman a little moment of joy,’ she
Said .
‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her
Hand, and then walked into the dim morning
Light.. Behind me, a door shut.. It was the sound
Of the closing of a life..

I didn’t
Pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove
Aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that
Day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had
Gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient
To end his shift?
What
If I had refused to take the run, or had honked
Once, then driven away?

On a quick
Review, I don’t think that I have done anything
More important in my life.

We’re
Conditioned to think that our lives revolve
Around great moments.

But great
Moments often catch us unaware-beautifully
Wrapped in what others may consider a small
One.

PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY
WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID ~BUT~THEY WILL
ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM
FEEL.

Life
may not be the party we hoped for, but while we
are here we might as well dance

Your Declaration of Independence from Obama and Pelosi

Do you remember the Contract with America? Millions of Americans came together to demand action from Washington on issues ranging from abortion and gun rights to out of control spending and regulation. And we won. Conservative candidates swept the polls and held back Washington’s power grabs, waste and self-indulgence for almost a decade. That was 16 years ago. Since then, politicians have abandoned America. Election after election, we see the same results. Incumbents get comfortable, outsiders become insiders, and before we know it… everything we worked for vanishes in the haze of bloated budgets, waves of illegal immigration, and outbursts of federal power. It’s time for a new Contract. We have gathered the 10 most important conservative issues into a list that we demand action and adherence to

Declaration of Independence
We, the undersigned American voters, are disgusted with the antagonism of many of our elected and appointed government officials toward American values, their violations of their oaths to uphold our Constitution, and their manifest disdain for our God-given, constitutional rights and liberty. The words and deeds which have come from such an attitude have made our federal government the most serious threat to the safety and freedom of Americans in our time.
You, our elected and/or appointed officials, are our representatives. Your authority over us is not unlimited: it is limited by our fundamental law, our Constitution. We expect you to uphold, not subvert, our fundamental values. We expect you to abide by your oath to support our Constitution. If you represent us, you should publicly support—in action as well as in speech—at least the following American principles:

Article I: Limited Government
The federal government has been given clearly limited and defined powers in the Constitution in order to preserve our freedom. The idea of Big Government running every aspect of our lives—from healthcare to the cars we drive—is revolting and unconstitutional. The founding fathers designed separation of powers with checks and balances into the Constitution to decentralize power and preserve our liberty. A constitutional amendment requiring term limits for all publically elected officials is necessary. Presidents, congressmen, senators, and judges who violate the Constitution’s limit on the powers of their offices—and do not work to prevent other officials’ transgressions of those limits—must be removed from office.

Article II: Gun Rights
The Second Amendment guarantees private citizens the right to keep and bear arms. The federal government has no authority to restrict this right in any way, shape, or form. Federal officials who do so must be removed from office.

Article III: Courts
Judges should interpret the law by studying the intentions of the framers of the Constitution and its amendments, and by adhering to legal precedents which are based squarely on those intentions. Judges who legislate—or amend our Constitution—from the bench must be removed from the bench.

Article IV: Federal Spending
Unconstitutional legislation and fiscal irresponsibility have produced out-of-control deficit spending that is crippling our future—and our children’s and grandchildren’s. The only way to bring Congress under control is to restrict how much they can tax and spend and one way to accomplish this is through a balanced budget amendment. Legislators and presidents who engage in uncontrolled spending must be removed from office.

Article V: Energy
Americans should be free to pursue energy options which use our own resources, don’t tax us to subsidize politically-favored groups, and don’t enslave us to foreign countries. We need sensible, constitutional environmental rules—not environmentalist extremism—the removal of impediments to the development of nuclear and other forms of energy, and freedom to drill in Anwar and elsewhere. Politicians who stand in the way of energy independence must be removed from office.

Article VI: Personal Responsibility
Government handouts in any form take from some to give to others and create dependence. Government does not exist to provide for its citizens and our Constitution does not authorize such legalized theft. Current federal compensation programs, including “corporate welfare”, should be phased out—and politicians who advocate such things should be removed from office.

Article VII: National Defense

A strong national defense is a constitutional as well as a practical necessity in this hostile world. Our citizens and our national interests must be protected. Terrorists should be tried in military tribunals and not given the rights of American citizens that so many of our troops have died to defend. Our military forces must be kept second-to-none: by a large margin. Politicians and officials who weaken our national defenses must be removed from office.

Article VIII: Borders
Secure borders are essential to the defense of our lives, liberty, and property. There is a legal way to come to this country and we welcome those who do so. Those who do not are breaking the law and should be treated as criminals. Amnesty is not an option for those who came here illegally. Politicians who advocate anything less must be removed from office.

Article IX: Right to Life
Human life unquestionably begins at conception. Ending the life of an unborn child via abortion is murder, is truly unconstitutional, and must be outlawed. Politicians whose character does not agree with this must be removed from office.

Article X: States Rights
The Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The federal government has usurped many powers from the state governments. These powers must be returned to the respective states—for the sake of constitutionality and of our freedom. Politicians who oppose states’ rights must be removed from office.

CONCLUSION:
We the people of these United States declare that we will support candidates who support these principles and work against those who violate them.

America Was Built By Rugged Individualists Who'd Reject Obama

By Sam Samford

America Was Built By Rugged Individualists Who’d Reject Obama
America was built by people who fended for themselves, who expected nothing from the government except protection. They expected nothing from the government except protection from foreign enemies and a just rule of law. Other than that, stay the hell out of our lives. That’s who built America. The very people who founded this country constructed that kind of a government. The people who built this country revolted against high taxes, a tea tax specifically. America was built by people who believed in individuality, rugged individualism. I love saying that because it so ticks off the left, rugged individualism, hard work, minimal government, freedom and liberty.”
Sam Samford

Stop Big Labor

Dear Fellow Conservative,

I just got off the phone with my campaign manager, Marty Wilson, who informed me that The Wall Street Journal has reported Big Labor has pledged to spend $88 million in the next ten weeks on behalf of Barbara Boxer and other liberals around the country who are the exclusive beneficiaries of these special interest union dollars.

I’ve included the photo that accompanied the story. There she is — Barbara Boxer looking like the cat who ate the canary. Looks like she knows she’ll be cashing in on years of supporting unions at the expense of the taxpayers she was elected to serve.

Friend, I’m under constant attack from Barbara Boxer and her liberal friends. These attacks will only be more frequent and better funded between now and Election Day. We are in a dead heat with her in the polls and the momentum is heading our way, but we need your help to keep it up. Election experts predict the polls will remain tight all the way through Election Day.

This will be one of the most watched campaigns in the country, so we must be financially prepared to show just how angry we are with failed career politicians in Washington. Boxer has championed failed policies that have led California and the nation down a destructive path of increased government control, tax hikes and job loss. We can’t afford to sit back and allow her to coast to re-election again. So I’m turning to you for help.

Communicating with voters in a state as big as California is expensive. Barbara Boxer is able to dip in to her $11.3 million war chest and count on Big Labor and their $88 million. I’m counting on your support to fight back and move the polls in our favor.

There is tremendous excitement building in this campaign, and I have you to thank for this. But we don’t want to lose the excitement to negative attacks from Barbara Boxer. The reality is that we have the best chance in a generation to fire Barbara Boxer and replace her with a fiscal conservative who will stand up and fight back against the big-government agenda of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

I am truly thankful for your generous support, and I look forward to building more momentum to finally retire Barbara Boxer and bring new representation to Washington!

Sincerely,

Carly Florina

A Letter from a War Hero and From All Of Us

Dear President Obama,

My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year.  People meeting me for the first time don’t believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Boson Mate.  Now I live in a “rest home” located on the western end of Pearl Harbor, allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country. One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man. So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.
I can’t figure out what country you are the president of.

You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:

”We’re no longer a Christian nation”
”America is arrogant” – (Your wife even announced to the world,” America is mean- spirited. “Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe that died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.
I’d say shame on the both of you, but I don’t think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the
obvious gifts this country has given you.  To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.
After 9/11 you said,” America hasn’t lived up to her ideals.” Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British?  Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, those 500,000 men died for in the Civil War?

I hope you didn’t mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of
fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.

I don’t think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination.  You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man. Shape up and start acting like an American.  If you don’t, I’ll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue.  You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat
their people like slaves.

And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don’t want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts, who was putting up a fight?  You don’t mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don’t want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.
One more thing.  I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you’re the Commander-in-Chief now, son.  Do your job.  When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him.  But if you’re not in this fight to win, then get out.  The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you’re thinking of.
You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.
You’re not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy.  That’s not our greatest threat.  Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now.

And I sure as hell don’t want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle…

Sincerely,
Harold B. Estes

Divine Providence

This is what Glenn Beck and all of us Christians believe in.

Divine providence is the means by and through which God governs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. This includes the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human birth and destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8). This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.

The purpose, or goal, of divine providence is to accomplish the will of God. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than a depiction of God at work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power, nor do they work independently. The laws of nature are the rules and principles that God set in place to govern how things work.

The same goes for human choice. In a very real sense we are not free to choose or act apart from God’s will. Everything we do and everything we choose is in full accordance to God’s will—even our sinful choices (Genesis 50:20). The bottom line is that God controls our choices and actions (Genesis 45:5; Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 21:1), yet He does so in such a way that does not violate our responsibility as free moral agents, nor does it negate the reality of our choice.

The doctrine of divine providence can be succinctly summarized this way: “God in eternity past, in the counsel of His own will, ordained everything that will happen; yet in no sense is God the author of sin; nor is human responsibility removed.” The primary means by which God accomplishes His will is through secondary causes (e.g., laws of nature, human choice). In other words, God works indirectly through these secondary causes to accomplish His will.

God also sometimes works directly to accomplish His will. These works are what we would call miracles (i.e., supernatural events as opposed to natural). A miracle is God’s circumventing, for a short period of time, the natural order of things to accomplish His will and purpose. Two examples from the book of Acts should serve to highlight God directly and indirectly working to accomplish His will. In Acts 9 we see the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. In a blinding flash of light and in a voice that only Saul/Paul heard, God changed his life forever. It was God’s will to use Paul to further accomplish His will, and God used direct means to convert Paul. Talk to anyone who converted to Christianity, and you will more than likely never hear a story quite like this. Most of us come to Christ through hearing a sermon preached or reading a book or the persistent witness of a friend or family member. In addition to that, there are usually life circumstances that prepare the way—loss of a job, loss of a family member, failed marriage, chemical addiction. Paul’s conversion was direct and supernatural.

In Acts 16:6-10, we see God accomplishing His will indirectly. This takes place during Paul’s second missionary journey. God wanted Paul and his company to go to Troas, but when Paul left Antioch of Pisidia, he wanted to go east into Asia. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit forbade them to speak the word in Asia. Then they wanted to go west into Bythinia, but the Spirit of Christ prevented them, so they ended up going to Troas. This was written in retrospect, but at the time there were probably some logical explanations as to why they could not go into those two regions. However, after the fact, they realized that it was God directing them where He wanted them to go—that is providence. Proverbs 16:9 speaks to this: “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

On the other hand, there are those who will say that the concept of God directly or indirectly orchestrating all things destroys any possibility of free will. If God is in complete control, how can we be truly free in the decisions we make? In other words, for free will to be meaningful, there must be some things which are outside of God’s sovereign control—e.g., the contingency of human choice. Let us assume for the sake of argument that this is true. What then? If God is not in complete control of all contingencies, then how could He guarantee our salvation? Paul says in Philippians 1:6 that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” If God is not in control of all things, then this promise, and all other biblical promises, are invalid. We could not have complete security that the good work of salvation that was begun in us will be brought to completion.

Furthermore, if God is not in control of all things, then He is not sovereign, and if He is not sovereign, then He is not God. So, the price of maintaining contingencies outside of God’s control results in a God who is no God at all. And if our “free” will can supersede divine providence, then who ultimately is God? We are. That is, obviously, unacceptable to anyone with a Christian and biblical worldview. Divine providence does not destroy our freedom. Rather, divine providence is what enables us to properly use that freedom.

GIVE ME YOUR TIRED

By Robert A. Hall
I’m 63. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a six-month period when I was between jobs but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked hard since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired.

I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.

I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes.” Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.

I’m tired of being told how bad America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Christian people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela.

I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor”; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers”; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery”; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.

I’m tired of being told that “race doesn’t matter” in the post-racial world of Obama, when it’s all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of U. S. Senators from Illinois.

I think it’s very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing government.

I’m tired of a news media that thinks Bush’s fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama’s, at triple the cost, were wonderful; that thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress; that picked over every line of Bush’s military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his; that slammed Palin, with two years as governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever. Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.

I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.

I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off?

I don’t think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I’m tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.

‘m tired of illegal aliens being called “undocumented workers,” especially the ones who aren’t working, but are living on welfare or crime. What’s next? Calling drug dealers, “Undocumented Pharmacists”? And, no, I’m not against Hispanics.

Most of them are Catholic, and it’s been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I’m willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English, doesn’t have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military. Those are the citizens we need.

I’m tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves.

Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years and still are? Not even close. So here’s the deal. I’ll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we’ll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers; bums are bipartisan. And I’m tired of people telling me we need bipartisanship. I live in Illinois, where the “Illinois Combine” of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years. Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama’s cabinet.

I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor, speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

I’m real tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I’m not going to have to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter.

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate and is a member of the Tea Party.

65 years later

What happened to the radiation that lasts thousands of years?

HIROSHIMA 1945
We all know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945 after explosion of atomic bombs.




However, we know little about the progress made by the people of that land during the past 64 years.
HIROSHIMA – 64 YEARS LATER








DETROIT – 65 YEARS AFTER HIROSHIMA








What has caused more long term destruction – the A-bomb, or U. S. Government welfare programs created to buy the votes of those who want someone to take care of them?

Truth and Tolerance

Truth and Tolerance is a book for anyone interested in how Christianity, world religions, faith, truth, and freedom fit together.
Excerpts from Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions
The position that Christianity assigns itself in the history of religions is one that was basically expressed long ago: it sees in Christ the only real salvation of man and, thus, his final salvation. In accordance with this, two attitudes are possible (to it seems) with regard to other religions: one may address them as being provisional and, in this respect, as preparatory to Christianity and, thus, in a certain sense attribute to them a positive value, insofar as they allow themselves to be regarded as precursors. They can of course also be understood as insufficient, anti-Christian, contrary to the truth, as leading people to believe they are saved without ever truly being able to offer salvation. The first of these attitudes was shown by Christ himself with respect of the Old Testament. That this may also, in a way, be done with regard to all other religions has been clearly shown and emphasized only in recent times. We may in fact perfectly well say that the story of the covenant with Noah (Gen 8:20-9:17) establishes that there is a kernel of truth hidden in the mythical religions: it is in the regular “dying away and coming into existence” of the cosmos that the God who is faithful, who stands in a covenant relationship not merely with Abraham and his people, but with all men, exercises his providential rule. And did not the Magi find their way to Christ (even if they did so only by a round-about way, by way of Jerusalem, and by the Scriptures of the Old Testament) by means of the star, that is, by means of their “superstition”, by their religious beliefs and practices (Mt 2:1-23)? Did not their religion, then, kneel before Christ, as it were, in their persons, recognizing itself as provisional, or rather as proceeding toward Christ?
________________________________________

The dominant impression of most people today is that all religions, with a varied multiplicity of forms and manifestations, in the end are and mean one and the same thing; which is something everyone can see, except for them. The man of today will for the most part scarcely respond with an abrupt No to a particular religion’s claim to be true; he will simply relativize that claim by saying “There are many religions.” And behind his response will probably be the opinion, in some form or other, that beneath varying forms they are in essence all the same; each person has his own.
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To me, the concept of Christianity without religion is contradictory and illusory. Faith has to express itself as a religion and through religion, though of course it cannot be reduced to religion. The tradition of these two concepts should be studied anew with this consideration in mind. For Thomas Aquinas, for instance, “religion” is a subdivision of the virtue of righteousness and is, as such, necessary, but it is of course quite different from the “infused virtue” of faith. It seems to me that a postulate of the first order of any carefully differentiated theology of religions would be the precise clarification of the concepts of faith and religion, which are mostly used so as to pass vaguely into each other, and both are equally used in generalized fashion. Thus, people talk of “faiths” in the plural and intend thereby to designate all religions, although the idea of faith is by no means present in all religions, is certainly not constitutive element for all of them, and—insofar, as it does occur—means very different things in them. The broadening of the concept of religion as an overall designation for the relationship of man to the transcendent, on the other hand, has only happened in the second part of the modern period. Such a clarification is urgently needed, especially for Christianity to have a proper understanding of itself and for the way it relates to other world religions.
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Can or must a man simply make the best of the religion that happens to fall to his share, in the form in which it is actually practiced around him? Or must he not, whatever happens, be one who seeks, who strives to purify his conscience and, thus, move toward—at the very least—the purer forms of his own religion? If we cannot assume as given such an inner attitude of moving onward, if we do not have to assume it, then the anthropological basis for mission disappears. The apostles, and the early Christian congregations as a whole, were only able to see in Jesus their Savior because they were looking for the “hope of Israel”—because they did not simply regard the inherited religious forms of their environment as being sufficient in themselves but were waiting and seeking people with open hearts. The Church of the Gentiles could develop only because there were “Godfearers”, people who went beyond their traditional religion and looked for something greater. This dynamic imparted to “religion” is also in a certain sense the case—this is what is true about what Barth and Bonhoeffer say—with Christianity itself. It is not simply a network of institutions and ideas we have to hand on but a seeking ever in faith for faith’s inmost depth, for the real encounter with Christ. In that way—to say it again—in Judaism the “poor of Israel” developed; in that way they would have to develop, again and again, within the Church; and in that way they can and they should develop in other religions: it is the dynamic of the conscience and of the silent presence of God in it that is leading religions toward one another and guiding people onto the path to God, not the canonizing of what already exists, so that people are excused from any deeper searching.
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Anyone entering the Church has to be aware that he is entering a separate, active cultural entity with her own many-layered intercultural character that has grown up in the course of history. Without a certain exodus, a breaking off with one’s life in all its aspects, one cannot become a Christian. Faith is no private path to God; it leads into the people of God and into its history. God has linked himself to a history, which is now also his history and which we cannot simply erase. Christ remains man to eternity, retains a body to eternity; but being a man, having a body, includes having a history and a culture, this particular history with its culture, whether we like it or not. We cannot repeat the process of the Incarnation at will, in the sense of repeatedly taking Christ’s flesh away from him, so to speak, and offering him some other flesh instead. Christ remains the same, even according to his body. But he is drawing us to him. That means that because the people of God is, not just a single cultural entity, but is gathered together from all peoples, therefore the first cultural identity, rising again from the break that was made, has its place therein; and not only that, but it is needed in order to allow the Incarnation of Christ, of the Word, to attain its whole fullness. The tension of many active entities within a single entity is an essential part of the unfinished drama of the Son’s Incarnation. This is the real inner dynamic of history, and of course it stands always beneath the sign of the Cross; that is to say that it must always be struggling against the opposing weight of shutting off, of isolation and refusal.
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We must also bid farewell to the dream of the absolute autonomy of reason and of its self-sufficiency. Human reason needs a hint from the great religious traditions of mankind. It will certainly look at the individual traditions in a critical light. The pathology of religion is the most dangerous sickness of the human spirit. It exists within the religions, yet it exists also precisely where religion as such is rejected and relative goods are assigned an absolute value: the atheistic systems of modern times are the most frightful examples of passionate religious enthusiasm alienated from its proper identity, and that means a sickness of the human spirit that may be mortal. When the existence of God is denied, freedom is, not enhanced, but deprived of its basis and thus distorted. When the purest and most profound religious traditions are set aside, man is separating himself from his truth; he is living contrary to that truth, and he loses his freedom. Nor can philosophical ethics be simply autonomous. It cannot dispense with the concept of God or dispense with the concept of a truth of being that is of an ethical nature. If there is no truth about man, then he has no freedom. Only the truth makes us free.

Defeat of Communism and Its Meaning for Muslims

Defeat of Communism and Its Meaning for Muslims

By: Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

As everybody knows, for the most part the present world is run by three systems:

1. capitalist / democratic secularism,

2. totalitarianism, atheistic communism, and

3. dictatorship.

In the last decade the first of these three systems has won big victories against the other two. All communist countries, which are already secularist, are facing strong pressures from within to move in the direction of western-style democratic capitalism or have already started to move in that direction.

Dictatorships have always faced pressures to move towards democracy, in the past decade at least three countries previously ruled by dictatorship–Argentina Philippines and Pakistan–have moved towards democracy, although the move is somewhat shaky and in Pakistan it may not completely be in the direction of secularist democracy.

It seems fairly certain that capitalist democratic secularism will continue to make big gains for some time to come. By the end of this century it is likely to conquer most of the communist part of the world and in this way rule the entire northern part of the globe. The regimes in the southern part will also continue to come, one by one, under democracy, mostly secularist and capitalist democracy. Before the end of the first quarter of the next century, this system may well prevail over almost the entire world, including greater part of the Muslim world.

But never can there be any system, ideology or group in power without there being an opposition to it. Consequently, democratic capitalist secularism, even in its global victory and domination will face opposition. In the past it has faced strong opposition from communism. This opposition will continue, although in a different and much weakened form. The communist parties in the eastern bloc countries will continue to exist even after loosing power and will continue to exert opposition to capitalist democracy in various ways. It is possible even that communist parties in some western capitalist countries will grow stronger, as the wall between east and west is now breaking down, the influence usually travels in both direction, although influence in one direction may be greater than in the other. Democratic, capitalist secularism has also been opposed by groups within Christianity and this opposition can increase under certain circumstances such as a revival of traditional religious sentiments or a big deterioration in socio-economic conditions. But in the future neither Christianity nor communism can pose a real challenge to democracy, capitalist secularism; they will never be able to replace it at the global level.

The challenge to democratic, capitalist secularism can only come from ISLAM which contains the best of all the systems and has the potential to give to man both spiritual peace and material prosperity.

The world in the next few decades can be compared to a country in which one party is in power with opposition provided by a number of parties, one of which constitutes the main opposition. In the coming decades, the democratic, capitalist secularism will rule the world. Islam will provide the main opposition while communists, some Christians and other religious and ideological groups will serve as relatively minor “opposition parties”.

And just as the main opposition party in a country sooner or later does usually come in power, so also Islam will sooner or later dislocate democratic, capitalist secularism from its global power and assume the leadership of the world. This in any case is something that Muslims believe, since the Qur’an says:

“He (i.e. God) it is who has sent His messenger (Muhammad) with the guidance and the religion of truth in order that He may cause it to prevail over all (false) religion” (9:33)

But before this victory comes, Muslims have to suffer through some hard times. The recent collapse or weakening of communist power in eastern block countries poses for Muslims both a danger and an opportunity.

The large number of Muslims in the communist world will be able to assert their Muslim identity with greater strength, if they choose to do so. This is the opportunity. The hazard is that it will now be easier for a powerful nation to attack a Muslim country.

The victory of Islam will in any case not be a military victory. The global and lasting victories are rarely military victories. Even the victory of democratic, capitalist secularism which we are presently witnessing is not a military one (although military build-up in the USA during the Reagan era may seem to do something with it ). Democratic, capitalist secularism is winning over totalitarian communism because it is the sounder of the two systems and therefore more beneficial for mankind. Similarly Islam will win over democratic, capitalist/socialist secularism because it is sounder and more beneficial for humanity.

“That which is of benefit to mankind abides on earth” (Qur’an 13:17).

If the global victory of Islam will not be a military one, what will be the instrument of that victory? The answer is, da`wah. Muslims will gradually learn what is the message of Islam and how to communicate it to the modern man and to win his heart and mind.

The establishment of Islamic states will be an important part of da`wah, since only through such states can it be demonstrated that Islam can lead man to the creation of better societies than can other systems.

Over the past few centuries Muslims have been very unsure of their role in the world. The time has come for us to abandon all hesitation and confidently assume once again our role in world affairs as leaders defined by God Almighty Himself:

“You (O Muslims) are the best community (Ummah) raised for mankind in that you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and you have faith in God…” (Qur’an 3:110).

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