13 July 2010

What does Al-Jazeera have to do with Sacralism?

As I've enjoyed writing these posts and toying with the blog format I was pleased to see that I could include small access modules to certain news channels. I doubt anyone cares but I'll explain why I would choose include a station like Al Jazeera English. Believe it or not, this is actually all connected in a broad sense to the overall portrait I'm trying to paint on this site.

If you've read my posts concerning the Why and How of Proto-protestantism, I talk about how Christians in America have quit looking for truth and instead turned to history and news that tells them what they want to hear. I am an absolute fanatic when it comes to news and history. Some consider it a waste of time, I consider it not only interesting but quite important. Though some would call me a retreatist, rather by knowing history and what is happening in the world…I am able to think through the issues of the day and am able to interact. I have a job that allows me to spend hours listening to history lectures, sermons, podcasts etc…and I do so. I take notes and talk about things with my wife.

All day long, I am thinking or trying to when I'm not sinning, about the Kingdom of God and its Lord…and what it has looked like through the ages. I try and think through different times and places, the politics, the culture…and think about the issues of that day…how things might have seemed then.

I listen to books on audio. I read when I'm home. I stay up late and get up early. I’m not trying to boast…I'm trying to explain that I'm serious about these things. When I became a Christian and think back about the stupor I called life…it was like I wanted to make up for lost time. I'm jealous of my kids. They've got a better historical framework in their adolescence then I did when I was 25. My dad never sat down with me and taught me the Bible. I am excited for them and hope I can live to see what God will do with them, unless Christ comes first which would be even better.

When you leave Sacralism you will begin to recognize the political options in this country are unacceptable and repugnant on all sides…not just the Conservative and Liberal parties, even the way out media often frames the discussion. You find yourself longing for news and information from outside of the American cocoon. NPR is hands down the best news organization we have in the United States, and yet it still operates within an establishment framework, and is thus politically speaking…somewhat too conservative. That may sound crazy to some who understand the news differently, but I know there are some people even in Conservative Christian political circles who are beginning to doubt the usefulness of something like FOX news, and I encourage those folks to keep asking why.

About two years ago, since we don't have television we were excited to find Livestation.com. They offer many international English language channels. We started watching and I still read my other news sources… I still listen to the BBC and NPR at work….but in terms of visual news, Livestation offers a couple of the best news channels around, Al Jazeera English and France 24.

Al Jazeera puts a bad taste in many people's mouths, but it is probably due to lies our government has fomented. And I have heard many lies about Al Jazeera English. During Israel's war on Gaza in during the weeks just prior to Obama taking office, Al Jazeera was the only station trying to tell the full story. People lied and said they weren't letting the Israelis have representation. It was patently false. Every day they had Mark Regev, the liaison for Ehud Olmert on the channel live, and they often interviewed the always delightful IDF spokeswoman, Major Avital Leibovitch. Were they showing the results of the bombing in Gaza?…you bet. Just like the Allies forced the Germans to walk by the piles of bodies at the concentration camps, John Hagee and every member of Christians United for Israel should have to watch the footage of the people in Gaza getting bombed. Al Jazeera tries to tell it like it is. Just because the anchor is some Lebanese woman, don't think for instant that she's on the side of the Iranian diplomat she's talking to. There are many ex-BBC and other organizations reporters on the station. Quality people and they're not all Middle Eastern either which shouldn't matter, but will be an issue for some in the United States. They won't trust people with brown skin reading the news to them.

My discussion about neutrality is in the other article. We don't have to have perfect neutrality, but the answer isn't to then, as if by necessity, turn to propaganda. If there is a valid point to the philosophical axiom of 'no neutrality,' then the response and application has overthrown something else…a commitment to telling the truth.

I'm sorry to say it, but I have to. There are lost and fallen people in the world that have more integrity than many Christians and desire the truth more than many Christians…and are therefore more trustworthy than many Christians, to report the news. The only thing worse than FOX which cannot be validly called a new channel are the plethora of Christian news sources. The Family Life Network purports to be a Christian radio ministry and is trying to report the news from a Christian worldview, but they engage in lies and deception on a regular basis. Sometimes it is done in ignorance, sometimes it is by perhaps unintentional omission, but often it is obvious and deliberate misinformation. They will report a story sometimes leaving you kind of confused and then a few hours later you hear NPR report it and now it makes sense. FLN, didn't want to tell you certain aspects of the story, sometimes rather critical or key aspects of the story. The anchor considers himself to be in Christian ministry. He will answer to God for what he is doing. He is the opposite of the watchman on the wall. He is the thief, the raider. It's not just an irritation to me, what they are doing is morally offensive. He says he's reporting the news from a Christian worldview. Somehow this has turned into the end justifies the means.

American Family Radio has a daily program called Today's Issues with the now younger Wildmon. It would make Joseph Goebbels proud. It's that bad and dishonest. It is deplorable, and I'm not trying to be funny. If that's news….then these people need to find something else to do because they have no concept of what reporting or journalism is. Pat Robertson's CBN is another example. Even worse than Bill O'Reilly's Spin Zone, Robertson offers commentary on everything. He is a true guru. After watching his truncated reports he then has to sit and explain to you what you're supposed to think about it. He is so corrupt and criminal it boggles the mind.
Truly they make merchandise of the people of God.

I talked about the Iraq War in the other article and the lead up, and how the Christians cheered it on…and yet proved and still prove to be probably the most ignorant segment of the population. As I've watched Obama who has turned out to be quite conservative….escalate Bush's failed war in Afghanistan I look at my son. There are kids in my niece's 2010 high school class that were my son's age when the U.S. attacked the Taliban regime in October 2001. Some of those kids are now going off to Afghanistan and Iraq… They were little kids when it began. I start thinking about the future of this country and if another Republican gets in and starts more wars……..

I hear the Christian Right often calling for a return of the draft. They scare me. These would be the very people who would have cheered on Hitler in 1933. I don't say that lightly. I'm dead serious. How many people, professing Christian people have lost their sons, or part of their sons to these Geo-strategic unjust wars? Christians are not thinking…they're repeating arguments given to them by their masters.

After analyzing many of the different news sources, I without hesitation endorse Al Jazeera English (AJE) as probably the best English news channel out there. France 24 is also very good. Al Jazeera is a true international channel. They have interesting, informative, and thoughtful programs and first class documentaries. They are not anti-American at all. They are truly trying to be neutral, which means sometimes America looks good and on another issue, not so good. How can FOX be something Christians would desire? We're supposed to be people who love truth. FOX is worse than lies, it's a mockery. If there's one country on AJE that probably gets bad coverage, it's Israel. But Israel makes their own bad news…it can't be helped if people cover it, especially when the rest of the English speaking world has ignored half of the story. I would be proud to work for an organization like Al Jazeera. Watch the documentary Control Room, about the Al Jazeera Arabic channel. These are not Islamists in any way shape or form. With so many of these Middle Eastern people, western powers have toppled their governments, backed dictators, and bombed their people and yet still, they are drawn toward America and its powerfully seductive culture. What they cannot stand is the self-righteous hypocrisy in our tone, in our media, and in our political leaders. As Christians we should actually be in agreement with them, at least in assessing those points. If you want to understand a culture, you can't just look at it from within. But the 'no neutrality' type thinking seems to eliminate the validity of anyone else even having an opinion. This may not be true among the academics of that school of thought….but this is how it has played out on the street.

I am just shocked on a daily basis as I listen to Christian radio and media and hear the ideas of Francis Schaeffer, Abraham Kuyer, and even Van Til floating around. Their names aren't being mentioned, sometimes the arguments are a little goofed up, but Dobson, Colson, DJ Kennedy, and other evangelical leaders have done their best to disseminate these ideas to the Christian main street. They have been very successful. In a generation they have completely changed the way Evangelicals are thinking. Theonomists said they would do it and they've been pretty successful. The arguments can be refuted and yet they just keep writing books and drown out any opposition. Westminster Seminary decimated them in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique. I think it's out of print, last I knew.

It's all very reminiscent of the way in recent days Republicans just keep shouting and regardless of their opponent's response, they just ignore it and keep asserting their points over and over and eventually shape the argument, because people can't think it through. At this point it's the evangelical tendency toward fad and lack of attention span that seems to be hindering the Dominionist vision in this country. They've created an intellectual climate where the opposite point of view is barely even allowed a hearing, but their audience is so dumbed down and self serving they can't stay with the program.

NPR covered extensively the Roxana Saberi story, the Iranian-American reporter detained in Iran and then released after some diplomatic pressure. She was a sometime NPR reporter so I guess they can't be blamed for spending a little extra time on her story. Her story was an international headline…meanwhile the United States holds numerous reporters, some in Guantanamo Bay and they are ignored…American media won't cover the story. NPR I believe is the only that has said at least something, not critical, just reporting the issue. Al Jazeera covered the Saberi story just like everyone else, but they also cover the journalists the American's 'detain.'

Livestation.com also has Russia Today which is their English language news channel. It has a definite anti-American angle. But I like to watch that as well. Often I agree with their stories, but I don't pretend they are trying to be objective. However, when issues arise like the Russian-Georgian War over South Ossetia, a station like Russia Today will give a different perspective and some helpful commentary and information. There were things about Georgia that weren't being reported here. So then I go to Al Jazeera, and they're agreeing with Russia Today, somewhat. And then I go to NPR, the one American outlet that might have something worthwhile, and they'll maybe report some of what Al Jazeera mentions. Then I read, or often apply what I've read, and I can begin to make sense of it. Russia Today is biased but no more than CNN. Interesting in their global coverage, they give voice to people on the extreme right and left of the American spectrum. They'll actually interview people like Alex Jones, Bill Ayers, Ron Paul, Noam Chomsky, and others, people the American mainstream media will barely touch.

So, I urge anyone and everyone…learn, don't be afraid. Think, don't be intellectually lazy. Go to Al Jazeera's YouTube channel and watch something. Don't think in Sacralist categories even as you watch the news and try to figure out what's going on…and decide how to respond. America is not the kingdom of God. Our Kingdom is concerned with Truth. How can Truth ever be called treason in God's Kingdom? It's impossible. But in the Sacral kingdom, the Truth can be treasonous and I ask those who profess Christ…where is our allegiance? I think with many America is their kingdom…they're not seeing the Kingdom of God.

I remember being in the American forces in Europe and I was involved on the logistics end of the Bosnian campaign. I wasn't pulling the trigger but I was two guys back from that point. Jets are talking off and landing and an impressive tempo. They're bombing…these things are going out full and coming back empty. We're killing people. I'm handling large bombs and missiles that within hours are airborne. We are killing Serbs. I started chatting with my fellow uniformed members (I refuse to say, servicemen)…chatting about the operation, what was happening in Yugoslavia with the Serbs, Croatians, and Bosnians. No one, and I mean no one knew anything about it…couldn't even find the places on a map. No one cared. That was frightening. I already wanted to get out. I came to understand as a Christian I had no business being there.

It's funny, if you have some group that's got little enclaves all over the place, and when you join they shave your head, scream at you, try to break you physically and mentally, and then re-create you into the person they want you to be. And this new person is to obey without questioning even to the point of killing….Well, we would call it a dangerous Death Cult….and so it is. So much so that even when many people leave it, for the rest of their lives they still cut their hair according to the code, put stickers on their car, join clubs with other ex-members…..

And yet one Calvinist cultural commentator of renown sits on the radio and proudly tells the audience the majority of people in the military are evangelicals. I'm sorry but, there are very few Christians in the military and the ones that are there need to repent and get out. I did. It's what started me down this road all those years ago. As a church, our minds are not being renewed, they are shutting down and being primed for deception. I hope you're not the next parent to proudly send you son off to a war that you later realize was a wicked lie. And hopefully he didn't kill anyone in the process or be maimed or killed himself.

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