Christian Humanism

Just Published: The Gospel of Christian HumanismChristianity without God will appeal to skeptics, agnostics, non-theists, liberal Christians or former Christians who have difficulty with the mythology and the concept of god in traditional Christian theology but find the life and ethical teachings of Jesus compelling as a way of life and a basis for ethics. The author argues that Christian Humanism is essentially Christian, is justified on historical grounds, and is consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the early Church Fathers so far as we can determine with reasonable historical and literary accuracy. He argues for an approach to Christianity based on rational inquiry, human freedom, individual conscience, and a commitment to the values taught by Jesus as a guide to ethical decision-making; and further that these values are not only compatible with Christianity, they are fundamental to a proper understanding and interpretation of it.

Available on Amazon Kindle. Free e-book download July 5-6. Paperback version.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Trump Is A Traitor

There is considerable reluctance both by the press and by our political leaders to state what has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention--that Trump and his supporters have colluded with an enemy of the United States to undermine US interests, our elections and our democratic processes not only to win an election but to weaken the role of the US in international relations.  There are implications of colluding with an enemy that our political leaders seem reluctant to state--Trump is a traitor.

Trump is an inveterate and constant liar who has said one thing and done another (for instance, saying he would drain the swamp but instead appointing denizens of the swamp to major roles in his administration).  His swamp dwelling cabinet officials are systematically weakening the US by rolling back regulations that protect our air, our water, our environment, our housing, our medical care, our social safety net--and systematically dismantling important government agencies from housing to education, the FDA to the Justice Department. He is actively undermining our quality of life, our educational system, our cultural values and our democratic institutions.

More important he is a traitor in the traditional sense of subverting U.S. national interests in the service of a foreign enemy of the US.  Despite his assertions that his collusion with Russia is "fake news" there is sufficient evidence publicly available to substantiate the claim that Trump and his co-conspirators had Russian help to win the election.  Trump’s interest was to win at any cost and the Russian interest was to subvert the U.S. democratic processes, weaken the NATO alliance and sow discord among the European democracies and within the US—all of which is very clearly substantiated by US and European intelligence agencies. 

The latest instance of Trump acting in the service of a foreign power and against the interests of our own nation is his unilateral termination this week of the US commitment to the agreement with Iran that limits its ability to develop a nuclear weapon and provides for monitoring of its nuclear sites to assure compliance.  It is in our interest to keep that agreement in place because it reduced the potential threat to Middle East stability.  Arguably it is in the interest of other powers in the region, including Israel, because it reduces tension and could lead to a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Unfortunately the right-wing government of PM Netanyahu does not want peace yet because it has not yet achieved its ultimate goal, which is control of all of the land area of biblical Israel and the displacement or subjugation of the Palestinians from their land.

Why does withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran serve Israeli interests? For two apparent reasons.  1.  It angers Iran, which will then find reasons to increase tensions that could result in a larger conflict, possibly even war between Iran and Israel.  Israel expects any such war would involve the US.  Israel hopes that will result in the defeat of Iran,  to prevent a future Nuclear-armed Iran, and to reduce the power of Iran as a force that could threaten Israel's future.  2.  By increasing regional conflict and tensions it provides an opportunity for Israel to increase the amount of land it is steadily incorporating into Israel while justifying the land grab as necessary for regional peace.

Why is Trump betraying US national interests in the service of Israeli policy? The U.S. has been sympathetic to Israel since its creation ex nihilo out of Arab owned land in Palestine.  We get it.  There was sympathy for the Jews as a result of the Holocaust.  We have not forgotten.  But that was more than 70 years ago and the history of Israel in recent years has been less than admirable.  Israel has refused to acknowledge any injury to the Arab occupants that they displaced to create Israel, refused the right of Arabs to return to their homeland even as immigrants, and under recent right-wing Israeli governments especially that of Netanyahu have created new settlements and refused the right of Palestinians to their own state.  Those Israeli policies have been opposed by every other nation in the world as unreasonable, unlawful and unacceptable, and the US has been caught between its desire to support Israel while telling Israel that its policies were troublesome. 

Unfortunately US policy has been undermined by two different groups in the US who have supported Israel’s troublesome attitude:  (a) American Zionist Jews, and their supporters in Congress and (b) Christian Zionists, each with its own agenda and rationale, but cooperating in the demand that the US support Israel’s expansionist land policies and its historic right to biblical lands, and continuing to support Israeli foreign policy no matter that it is not in the best interests of the US.

Israel defines its national interest as (a) expansion of Israel into Arab lands and creating one state in the territory that was formerly Palestine; (b) claiming Jerusalem as capital of that expanded Jewish State with no recognition of the rights of Christians (since medieval times) or of Palestinians (since the Muslim era, if not to biblical times) to share in that symbolic capital of three major religions and peoples; and (c) no regional power strong enough to counter Israeli military power. 

The Middle East has been a trouble spot in the world for generations and seems always a tinderbox ready to erupt in flames.  In the nuclear age that has become a danger that needs to be managed.  Israel reportedly has nuclear weapons.  Iran seems to have emerged as a force to be reckoned with, causing Israel to fear Iran getting a nuclear weapon, which would make the outcome of any war between Iran and Israel uncertain but possibly leading to the destruction of Israel.  The US, together with the western nations of the NATO alliance, fear Iran getting a nuclear weapon because it could lead to unforeseen but troublesome problems in that entire region, given the Islamic potential for suicidal actions. 

Whose interests are served if the US pulls out of the nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran? Certainly not US interests.  The US gains nothing by a war with Iran. The rest of the world?  Surely the rest of the world’s nations see nothing to gain by war.  Israel’s interests?  Of course. 
Israel is the elephant in the room.  By supporting the interests of Israel against the interests of his own nation Trump is committing treason.

I am prepared for criticism from the right that this article is anti-semitic but my bona fides on this issue are pretty clear and longstanding.  I was a supporter of Israel in its early days when it faced annhilation at the hands of various mid-Eastern powers, and I continued to support it throughout its early development until it began its current expansionism with a claim to all of the biblical lands of 3000 years ago under the preposterous theory that these were lands granted to Abraham by God and thus to Israel and that any legal claims had to give way to theological justification.

The current US interest in the Middle East is to contain Iran and divert its energies into peaceful projects and away from terrorism, trouble-making and political isolation.  Together with our allies the US entered into the agreement with Iran to curtail its nuclear weapons program.

Israel has different national interests than the US--in the service of which Israel has been successful in convincing Trump to pull out of the nuclear agreement and is pushing Trump to take military action against Iran.  The US withdrawal from the agreement is likely to push Iran to do something troublesome, which will give the US pretense for a military strike against Iran, which is what Israel wants. 

Our principles as Christians and as Humanists compel us to oppose vociferously any US involvement in a war against Iran whose objective is to assist Israel in its unjust and illegal seizure of Palestinian lands (including the city of Jerusalem).