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Archive for February, 2014

I am a Jew

I am a Jew. 

Well, at least one of my ancestral goes all the way back to Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.  I also happen to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I am a Christian.  But that’s beside the point. 

Today, I stand with the Jews. 

I learned this week that a major (if shrinking) church that claims to be Christian published a study guide, “Zionism Unsettled”, that promotes the argument that Jews (and Christians who support Israel) are inherently racist and intolerable abusers of human rights.  Rabbi Yitzchok Alderstein expresses his justifiable outrage at this specious and disgusting claim far better than I can in his editorial:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/02/18/us-church-is-demonizing-zionists-sending-jews-to-trash-heap-history/  I encourage everyone to read it.  And I encourage everyone to sample the comments left by “useful idiots” and bigots across the internet.  These comments include the fallacy that the Jews control the media and the world’s wealth. 

Sound familiar?

Like a venomous and diseased viper, this evil has raised its hideous head before.  It is not new.  Those who promote and encourage murder (even “passively”) to rid the Earth of the Jew are not a recent phenomenon.  Al-Qaida, Hamas, and their ilk are not the first.  Neither was Hitler.  Neither was the KKK.  Neither was Woodrow Wilson.  Neither was Haman. 

You can attempt to cloak it in such statements as, “I have nothing against the Jews, just against Zionism,” but it amounts to the same thing.  It is a denial of the right of Jews to live in Israel.  It is a denial of Israel’s right to defend itself. 

At the end of World War II, when we were at last confronted with the hideous reality of Auschwitz and Dachau and the other death and labor camps, with the ovens, the human ashes, the lampshades made of human skin, and the soap made of human fat, when we were no longer able to pretend the Jews weren’t being slaughtered, we vowed, “Never again.”  However, today many deny or downplay the Holocaust.  Anti-Semitism is on the rise.  It is being taught in mosques.  It is being taught on university and college campuses—not only in the Middle-East, but in Europe, Russia, and the United States.

Now it is being taught in mainstream “Christian” churches.  Again.  Yes, sadly, this is not the first time.  And it won’t be the last. 

We don’t ever seem to learn from history. 

And the reason we don’t learn is because the author of this evil is older than Hitler, older than the mullahs who promote hatred and genocide, older than mankind itself.  Every time we wake up, even a little, Lucifer just sows the seeds somewhere else.  He is patient and his attention span, unlike ours, exceeds the relative attention span of a goldfish. 

And all it takes for him to win is for good Christian men and women to do nothing, because there will always be enough of his minions to actively do his bidding. 

Hitler was elected by a minority of Germans. 

My voice may not matter much.  Probably no more than a few dozen people will read this post.  And of those who do read it, some will think I’m on the wrong side. 

But I will not be silent. 

Today, for what it’s worth, I am a Jew and I stand with Israel. 

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No Petty Evils

“You a Mormon, boy?”  The high school history teacher, gray-haired and plump, sat at her desk, staring at me with intent, predatory eyes. 

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied.  My formal choice of words belied the outrage roiling in my gut. 

She smiled, showing a mouthful of false teeth.  “Oh, you get an F in my class”—her smile widened—“for the entire year.”  She waived dismissively at me.  “Now sit down and shut up.” 

I gathered my books and left the classroom. 

My family had just moved to the small southeastern Missouri town, and it was my first day of school.  It was not an auspicious beginning for my junior year. 

After leaving the classroom, I went straight to the principal’s office.  He wasn’t in, but the vice-principal agreed to speak with me.  I related what had happened. 

“Mrs. [name-redacted] was telling the class about all the contributions her ancestors have made to the history of America.  One of them fought in the Revolution.  Another fought in the War of 1812.  Then she boasted…boasted about how her great-grandpappy shot four Mormons at the Battle of Haun’s Mill.  The ‘Battle!’  She’s talking about the Haun’s Mill Massacre!”

Brief historical note: On October 30th, 1838, a mob of 250 Missourians attacked the small Mormon settlement of Haun’s Mill which consisted of about 30 families.  Alerted to the approach of the mob, many of the women and children fled to the woods.  One of the Mormon men, seventy-eight-year-old Thomas McBride (a Revolutionary War veteran), surrendered.  He was then shot and hacked apart.  The other Mormon men and some of the boys sought refuge in the blacksmith’s shop.  The mobbers pushed the barrels of their rifles and muskets between logs of the walls and fired about a hundred rounds into the shop.  They then dragged the dead and wounded out and shot the survivors.  One of the mobbers, William Reynolds, dragged ten-year-old Sardius Smith from the shop and then shot him in the head, killing the boy.  Reynolds later justified this murder by saying, “Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.”  The mobbers then mutilated the bodies of the slain and threw them down a well.  They urinated on the corpses of their victims.  In all, 17 Mormons were killed, 13 were wounded, several women and girls were raped, and the houses were robbed, wagons were stolen, and the livestock was driven off, leaving the surviving women and children to starve.  Not a single member of the mob was ever prosecuted.  Some are still remembered as heroes of the “Mormon War” or the “Trouble Up North”. 

I’m not kidding. 

This is what the history teacher was proud of. 

“So,” I continued to the vice-principal, “I asked her if she was talking about the Haun’s Mill Massacre, and she asked, ‘You a Mormon, boy?  Oh, you get an F in my class for the entire year.’”

“Well,” said the vice-principal, “let’s get you transferred to another class, shall we?” 

Transferred? I thought.  Is he kidding?  I was indignant.  “No!  I want her fired!  It’s not right!  I want you to do something!” 

The vice-principal smiled and said, “Listen, son.  Last year, she could’ve had you expelled, just for being Mormon.  Heck, technically, it was still legal to shoot you boys.  So,”—he patted me on the back as if he were my best friend in the world, and not someone enabling evil—“we’re gonna go ahead and transfer you to another class, and that’s the best you’re gonna get.  Understand?” 

Brief historical note: The vice-principal was making a reference to Missouri Executive Order #44, otherwise known as the “Extermination Order”, issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs in 1838.  The infamous order, which called for the Mormons to be driven from the state or exterminated, was rescinded by Missouri Governor Kitt Bond in the summer of 1976.  Gov. Bond declared that the order was unconstitutional.  Really?  Legalized slaughter of a group of citizens of the United States simply because of their religion?  Unconstitutional?  Imagine that. 

And it only took 138 years.    

My run-in with the history teacher was in the fall of 1976, and even today it boggles my mind.  I can’t understand how anyone can twist their thinking enough to glorify murder and rape. 

And both the teacher and the vice-principle were regular church-going folk who claimed to be Christian.  Certainly more Christian than the Mormons. 

Last year I was asked to resign from my Missouri high school alumni facebook page when I linked to my blog post about my involvement in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a heart-warming incident involving a young man with special needs.  Here’s a link to the offending post: https://unwillingchild.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/something-very-cool/  I could see nothing offensive about the story, but I nevertheless deleted the link and resigned.  I did ask the page moderator if the problem was due to the fact that I was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

I have received no response.  Perhaps old hatreds die hard.  Or perhaps, having achieved his goal, he saw no further need to waste electrons on me.

Several years ago, we lived next door to a wonderful lady in Mead, WA.  Bonnie was a widow who had some health problems.  It was a joy to shovel her walk and driveway, cut up and remove a fallen tree on her property, fix items her home, and help her in any way that we could.  It was also a great opportunity to teach my son about the joy of service.  Bonnie was a faithful member of the Episcopal Church.  One Sunday, her priest was teaching a Sunday school lesson about “the Mormons”.  Some the things the priest said were blatantly false and defamatory.  I wasn’t there, but I was told that Bonnie stood up and said, “I live next door to a Mormon family, and they are nothing like that.  They are Christians.”  Bonnie’s involvement in her church was very important to her.  I’m sure it took great courage to stand up to her priest, especially on that particular issue.  We would never have known about the incident if she had simply remained silent. 

Thank you, Bonnie, for your courage. 

President Barack Obama is not very popular here in Utah.  When he was running for president years ago, many tried to say he wasn’t born a citizen of the United States of America and was therefore ineligible to be president.  They conveniently ignored the fact that his mother was a citizen and the state of Hawaii confirmed that he was born in the U.S.A.  I’m not a fan of the current president by any stretch of the imagination (in fact, quite the opposite), but I am deeply offended when someone spreads lies and innuendo just to make political hay, especially if they are members of my faith.  So to all the “birthers” out there, how do you sleep at night?  The same thing goes to those who try to claim that he’s a Muslim.  I may not agree with his Liberation Theology, but his brand of “Christianity” is definitely not Islam.  If the only way you can win on the “Battlefield of Ideas” is to be dishonest or to spread unfounded rumor, you undermine the credibility of your legitimate arguments and you simply don’t deserve to win.

How do any of us justify gossiping or telling half-truths and outright lies to advance an agenda or make a point?  It doesn’t matter if we are talking about religion or politics or Hollywood celebrities or your annoying neighbor or coworker.   You may not consider me a Christian because I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but how can you justify lying to prove your own “Christian” superiority.  How can any member of my faith justify saying anything other than the whole truth, regardless of the circumstance?  How in the world could that make you morally superior? 

The Savior said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  How can any Christian, LDS or otherwise, justify petty evil?  Do you flip off another driver who is discourteous, or do you use profanity in the privacy of your car to express your displeasure?  How do you justify that?  Would you like your children or parents to see you do that?  Do you see someone who is suffering, even if that suffering is possibly self-inflicted, and then turn aside like the Levite and the priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan?  Do you pass judgment without all the facts?

In short, do the ends ever justify the means? 

Ask yourself, what would the Savior do?  Would He lie or allow unfounded gossip to stand?  Did He allow guilty men to stone the woman taken in adultery?  No, He said, “Go and sin no more.”  Would He flip off a driver who cut Him off, or would He say, “Father, forgive him.”  Remember, that Jesus healed the ear of the man who came to arrest Him. 

There are no petty evils.  There is only good and evil.  And I’m sorry, but there are no true “gray areas.” 

And we are never justified in doing evil in the name of good. 

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I am and will always be a Seahawks fan.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that the Seahawks won their very first Super Bowl yesterday.  And even if you’re not a football fan, please keep reading. 

In late 1985, my family and I arrived at Fairchild AFB for my first duty assignment as a new B-52 pilot.  At that time, the tails of the aircraft of the 325th Bombardment Wing sported the Hallmark crown logo and the motto, “When you care to send the very best”.  I thought at the time that it was an exceptionally lame logo to display on a combat aircraft as magnificent as the B-52.  However, that was the logo we had, and I was as proud as an eagle among chickens to be flying that awesome aircraft in the defense of liberty at the height of the Cold War.  

Within a few months of my arrival, however, the Hallmark Corporation decided it was no longer cool to support the military.  They sued the Air Force and demanded that we remove their beloved, girly logo and motto from our aircraft.  You see, they no longer wanted the free advertising and good will that comes with the display of their precious crown, especially if it meant that someone might think of them as patriotic or somehow associated with the brave men and women who risk their lives daily to defend our freedoms.  (Shortly before I arrived, Fairchild AFB lost a B-52 and two members of her crew in a crash during a low-level—meaning “low altitude”—training mission in mountainous terrain at night.)  So the tails of our aircraft were all painted over so we would no longer sully the good name of Hallmark. 

At the time, I remember thinking, “Good riddance.  Don’t let the door hit you in the tail fins on the way out.” 

Then someone at the Nordstrom family—the owners of the Seattle Seahawks at the time—said (and although I wasn’t a witness to the actual conversation, I’m absolutely certain I’ve got the EXACT WORDING), “Well, gee, would you like to use the SEAHAWKS logo?  You can have it for free, and we’ll put it writing so you can use it in perpetuity.”  (Sidebar, your honor?  I get it: enlightened self-interest, free advertising, yada, yada, yada.  It was still a cool thing to do.)  And officials at FAFB said (and once again, I’m sure that this was the EXACT WORDING), “Um… we don’t know.  Let us do a focus group and commission a multi-million dollar study…  I mean, we used to have a tiara and… Are you kidding?  HECK, YEAH!!!!” 

And you have to admit, it is an awesome logo.  And it looked great on the tails of our B-52s!

So even if Salt Lake City were to get its own NFL team—unless, of course, it’s the Seahawks—the Seahawks will ALWAYS be my team.  And it has NOTHING to do with football. 

And yes, it was a GLORIOUS day in the Belt household yesterday.  BEST SUPER BOWL OF ALL TIME!!! 

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