Month: February 2014

Ukrainian Follow Up…

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My post yesterday was an attempt at humor.  However, after watching the news this morning I feel the need to express my serious concern for the future of Ukraine.  The apparent posturing by Russian soldiers performing military exercises near the Russian – Ukrainian border as well as the takeover of a parliament building in Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital in south eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian gunmen  (A Russian flag was raised over this building) is cause for great concern.  The installation of an interim president and scheduled democratic elections indicated to me that the dust was beginning to settle.  Now, as the specter of civil war begins to emerge I pray for peace and unity in this nation.

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“Ukrainian Presidential Campaign Announcement”

(I couldn’t resist this attempt at humor.  Soon to be available on video)

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It is with tremendous pleasure and humility that I announce my candidacy for the recently vacated position of President of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian people have suffered much recently having been brought to their knees by violence and the threat of civil war.  Recently ousted President Viktor Yanukovych sealed his own political fate by failing to stem the recent violence in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev leaving vacant the position of President.

There is now an opportunity for peace and reconstruction in this honorable nation.  How can you help but admire the spirit of a nation whose national anthem is entitled, “Ukraine Has Not Yet Died!”.  Now, that is a song of hope!  That is a people I want to support.

Before the detractions begin to fly I will offer the following confessions.  First, I have never been to Ukraine.  But I have been to Russia and as many would agree, “What’s the difference?”  Second, I do not speak Ukrainian.  However, I do know some Russian words and phrases and as many would agree, “What’s the difference?”

This begs the question, what qualifies me to fill the office of President of Ukraine?  Simple. I can do a better job than the predecessor.  That is my campaign slogan and my campaign cry, “I can do better!”  “Ya Mahzhoo Zrahbiti Krashye!”

What other qualifications do I have?  Unlike most Americans, I know where Ukraine is.  Also, unlike most Americans, I can identify the Ukrainian flag in a montage of world flags.

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Most importantly, unlike most Americans I know what the primary issue of political division is in Ukraine.  The eastern part of the country is sympathetic to the ambitions of Russian nationalists to restore the Soviet Union or a facsimile.

The western part of Ukraine desires an increased relationship with the European Union and, unlike most Americans; I know where Europe is.  Moreover, there are nations in Europe where the native language is English and, unlike most Americans, I speak English!

So, the final question must be addressed.  Why should an American lead a foreign nation?  Quite frankly, I’m only offering to practice openly that which occurs in many parts of the world in secrecy.

Why waste the expense of propping up a puppet leader?  Cut out the middleman.  People of Ukraine!  Assert your independence and vote for me, Steve Whalen for President of Ukraine.  Because, just like most Americans when it comes to understanding world issues, “Ya Mahzhoo Zrahbiti Krashye!”  “I Can Do Better!”

Thank you.

“My name is Steve Whalen and I approved this announcement”

“C – R + J = x (Church – Religion + Jesus = x)”

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The apparent conflict between the church’s teaching on grace and her seemingly tyrannical demand for a standard of holy behavior is the result of religion directing the church rather than Jesus leading her.  I am not saying that a pursuit of holiness is not vital but the worship of holiness is spiritual quicksand.  Imagine subtracting religion from the church and completely releasing Jesus to reign?

Consider my feeble attempt at clarification through an algebraic equation.

C – R + J = x / x = KC

According to Merriam-Webster (Emphases mine)

Church:  A body or organization of religious believers: the whole body of Christians.

Religion:  An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.

A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

Jesus:  The Jewish religious teacher whose life, death, and resurrection as reported by the Evangelists are the basis of the Christian message of salvation.

According to the Bible (Emphases mine)

Church:

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them ALL that there were NO NEEDY PERSONS AMONG THEM.  For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”  Acts 4:32-35

Religion:

“Going on from that place, He (Jesus) went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they (The Pharisees) asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’

He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!  Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’

Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.  But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”     Matthew 12:9-14

Jesus:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”  John 1:29

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:17

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

Conclusion

C – R + J = x / Church – Religion + Jesus = x = KC

KC = “Your Kingdom Come on earth as it is in heaven!”

“Michael Sam: The Closet Door Opens A Little Wider”

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The announcement by University of Missouri football star Michael Sam regarding his homosexuality did not come as a surprise for many people.  What amazes me is that the National Football League (NFL) can now lay claim to the first openly gay athlete.  Of the Big Four sports; NFL, MLB (Baseball), NBA (Basketball) and NHL (Hockey), the NFL is arguably the frontrunner for the “Quien es Mas Macho?” award. 

Many current and former athletes have weighed in over the past few days acknowledging that they have had gay teammates at varying levels of their sports for many years but that the information was kept “in house”.  The attitude being that, as long as a player wasn’t an obnoxious narcissist, there was always respect on the field and in the locker room.  Come to think of it, I would prefer Michael Sam as a teammate over Alex Rodriguez.

My primary trepidation in commenting on this subject is the fact that I am a member of a decreasing minority in America that does not support homosexual activity.  Read any of my previous posts (*See links below) on the subject in order to understand that it is not a phobia or a prejudice but rather a conviction based on Biblical truth.  However, the same Bible that mandates all sexual behavior to be between a man and woman who are married to each other also instructs us to “do to others what you would have them do to you.

Therefore, I respect the courage Michael Sam displayed last weekend by publically declaring his homosexuality.  It may confirm my image as a mono-browed, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal, but I draw a comparison between Sam’s situation with that of Jackie Robinson.  Both athletes were challenged to courageously navigate uncharted waters without any assurance regarding public response.

Jackie Robinson had his supporters among white America but it seems to me that the overall cultural climate in the 1940’s was possibly less tolerant of an African-American playing Major League Baseball than it is today for a homosexual athlete declaring his orientation.  I acknowledge that while many of us disagree with homosexual practice it has rapidly become galvanized in our society.

I respect Michael Sam the man and the athlete.  The accomplishments that led him to be named Defensive Player of the Year in the South Eastern Conference (SEC) cannot be dismissed.  Moreover, his reputation as a class-act teammate speaks even more highly of his character and that I appreciate.

I pray that Michael Sam has a long and fruitful NFL career.  As a Seahawk fan I would love to see him play for Seattle.  It is a great city for people with a more “tolerant” perspective.

My continued request remains that while I respect Michael Sam and every other gay individual (celebrity or not); please respectfully permit me the freedom to embrace my convictions as well.  They are not emotionally based and they are not without reason.

*https://watertowine99.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/i-have-phobias…t-not-that-one/

*https://watertowine99.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/the-question-w…er-if-but-when/