My Teaching Ministry–Part V

The Lord has His times and places. Prior to teaching at Indiana Wesleyan, I had been an adjunct at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. My teaching had been well received there, and I had hoped for a full-time position, but none was available at that time. But as my fifth year at Indiana Wesleyan was ending, the door opened—providentially, I believe—to return to Regent to teach in the master’s program in the Robertson School of Government. For me, this was the fulfillment of my academic dream, and I hoped it would be the place where I could hang my regalia forever.

Students at Regent who were seeking a master’s degree in public policy were earnest and dedicated. Many had left a career midstream to make this sacrifice of time and finances. I never had to labor to get their attention. My task was to be the historian in the department, offering courses that provided the historical background that was necessary for work in the field of public policy and government. I had the freedom to teach how Scripture should influence our views on the proper role of civil government. I look back on this time as almost a golden age with respect to the nature of the students I was privileged to teach. I still have strong attachments to many of my former Regent students. Not only was I a mentor, but I rejoiced to be considered a friend as well. My advisees met with me once each week for group prayer; this created a bond that remains.

Living in the Tidewater area also made for a more hands-on approach to early American history with the Historical Triangle of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg nearby. Each year I took students to those sites; it was a highlight of two Saturdays in the fall. I even had the opportunity to help lead a trip to Israel and Great Britain, based on a summer course I offered on the roots of American government—found in both the Old Testament and the British heritage. This is the only trip I’ve made to the Holy Land, and I would dearly love to return.

In the classroom, I made the transition to PowerPoint presentations, which opened up a new world of possibilities, especially for history, as everything historical can be found on the Web.

One year I received an appointment as academic dean for the School of Government, but I was one of two associate deans under the primary dean. The position was laden with tremendous responsibilities with no corresponding authority. The university as a whole, and the School of Government specifically, underwent administrative upheaval in my final years there. The mission and goals of the School of Government began to change, and I no longer felt as tied to the program philosophically. I had spent seven years teaching these graduate students, and had loved nearly every minute of it. Although it pained me greatly, I began searching for a new position elsewhere.

Where did that search lead? That is tomorrow’s subject.

Through the Lens of Christian Faith

I’m grateful for the Thanksgiving break last week. It was good to get away, spend time with extended family and some “old” friends/former students, and kind of let the world do whatever it chose to do for a while without my involvement. Yes, I did check in from time to time to see if the world was still here. While on my hiatus, the following events transpired:

  • More layoffs occurred or have been planned by businesses since the election. The primary reason: the looming specter of Obamacare, which is threatening to destroy those businesses that can’t pay the increased costs. I see that some of our less-well-informed citizens are blaming the businesses themselves rather than the onerous regulations and cost associated with the Obama administration’s signature legislation. Our ignorance continues apace.
  • Hamas decided to declare an unofficial war against Israel. Tensions peaked, with an Israeli invasion of Gaza readied. Why did Hamas choose this time to act? Could it have had something to do with the election as well? They know they have an ally in the White House for four more years, a man sympathetic to their aims. Israel, on the other hand, is poised to suffer through another four years of perfunctory public pronouncements of support coupled with private disdain and contempt. President Obama will say whatever is necessary for public consumption while undercutting the Israeli state at every turn. Meanwhile, one poll shows that only about 40% of Democrats back Israel in their quest for self-defense. It appears the image of anti-Semitism that raised its head at the party convention is making progress. One wonders how long American Jews will remain blinded by the treatment their brethren are receiving from the political party to which most of them have chosen to give their allegiance.

  • Secretary of State Clinton and Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi hammered out a truce between Israel and Hamas—one that Hamas considers a victory. Don’t be surprised if this duo wins the next Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing . . . nothing. After all, it’s been granted for doing nothing before. Right, Mr. President?
  • Morsi then declared himself dictator of Egypt, setting aside the entire judicial system of that country. He is now claiming one-man rule. Ah, the fresh breeze of the Arab Spring still inspires!

Yet despite all these developments, I see no sign that the American electorate is suffering any remorse over its latest decision. As I noted in a previous post, we are a nation on the edge, positioned to jettison our Biblical heritage once and for all. We no longer think Biblically; in fact, to do so is becoming precarious for those who remain faithful to Biblical truth. Biblical morality is increasingly considered a “problem.”

The society around us is attempting to divorce itself from the truths God has implanted within each of us and seeks to create new “truths.” Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, in his treatise The Abolition of Man, described pretty well the futility of any such effort:

There never has been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) “ideologies,” all consist of fragments from the Tao [Natural Law given by God] itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao [Natural Law] and to it alone such validity as they possess. . . . The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

The rebels ultimately will fail, but they will hurt and destroy lives along the way, and may drag an entire society into the pit as they proceed.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it was nice to take a break, but I cannot leave the field of battle for the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens. Another Lewis quote reverberates within me:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

My pledge is to keep on faithfully viewing and writing about our culture, our politics, and our government through the lens of the Christian faith. It shines the light of truth on everything it touches . . .  and it touches everything.

On Flags, Arrogance, & Threats

In one of my posts last week detailing the case against Obama’s reelection, I wrote about his character. The most blatant trait I believe he possesses is an ego far outside the norm. I’m certainly not the first person to comment on the perceived arrogance of the man. In some cases, his followers have taken devotion to him to an extraordinary level. A couple of months ago, some of his campaign headquarters were flying this flag:

That raised the ire of many who saw it as a desecration of the American flag. There was enough blowback that this emblem soon disappeared. Then just this last week, the following showed up on Obama’s website for admirers to purchase:

Someone apparently didn’t learn the lesson. It also has quietly been removed. But it was there long enough for at least one cartoonist to draw attention to it:

I recall nearly four years ago after Obama won the election, whenever he would speak publicly, he would stand behind a podium the likes of which had never been seen before in American politics:

That also was unprecedented. He seems to enjoy the status of the office, if not the actual responsibilities. His spokespersons say he didn’t refuse a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but the word from Israel is just the opposite. It’s a shame to have to say I accept the word of a country other than my own in the controversy, but this administration has been anything but forthright on a number of issues. Obfuscation has become more of an art than ever. We are told Obama has avoided his daily intelligence briefings consistently, even in the aftermath of the Libyan attacks and the murder of our ambassador. Clint Eastwood’s empty chair is seeing a lot of play lately:

Just yesterday, the president was in New York City as world leaders were gathering for talks at the UN. He sent Secretary of State Clinton to meet with world leaders, but he had more pressing matters on his mind:

Yes, trolling for votes among his legion of fans was far more important. The one substantive interview he did submit to was on 60 Minutes where he, without the aid of his teleprompter, stirred up controversy once again by calling the rising tide of unrest and protests in the Muslim world simply bumps in the road, and referring to Netanyahu’s urgings to take the Iranian nuclear threat seriously as “noise” that he intends to “block out.”

Does he believe at all that there is a legitimate radical Muslim threat against the United States?

For the sake of our security, he had better start believing it. For the sake of the future of our nation, we need to put someone in the Oval Office who is a true friend of Israel and recognizes the threat. There is one out there.

May it come to pass.

The Case Against Barack Obama: Foreign Policy

This is my fourth posting this week laying out the reasons why President Obama does not deserve reelection. I began with an evaluation of his worldview, moved to his character traits, and then showed how those applied to his domestic policies. If you missed those, I urge you to go back and read them. Today’s goal is to illuminate his foreign policy and—surprise—it once again reflects his worldview and character.

Surely you recall the 2008 campaign when hope and change included the tantalizing promise that the election of Obama would make all things right with the world. He would rectify all the ill humor and bad vibes emanating from the rest of the world because of George Bush’s policies. With the incidents surrounding September 11, 2012, this is more of a joke than ever:

During the 2008 campaign, Obama staged a massive rally/speech in Germany. The adoring throngs gathered to see the political messiah who would bring peace and brotherhood to humanity. I’m not exaggerating; that was the expectation of many. The fantasy even found its way into the heady atmosphere of the Nobel committee that preemptively awarded the new president the Nobel Peace Prize simply for the “promise” he brought. He had accomplished nothing, but they were in full-swoon mode. Characteristically for him, he accepted the award, even though it was richly undeserved.

Upon taking office, he sent Secretary of State Clinton to Russia with a prop—a silly “reset” button, signifying the changing of the guard in D.C. The button didn’t work.

When Iranian dissidents rose up against the regime that is rapidly gaining access to nuclear weapons and is boasting it will wipe Israel off the map, what was the Obama administration’s response? Virtual silence. The dissidents were suppressed. When the misnamed Arab Spring burst from the underbelly of radical jihadism, we found the President of the United States as its prime cheerleader. Unsurprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood now seems to be in command of that revolution. Yet we hear no genuine warnings from this administration about the dangers of Muslim radicalism.

Then came our new September 11. Embassies attacked, an ambassador murdered, crowds chanting “Death to America.” The Obama response was to blame it all on a YouTube video of a trailer for a film depicting Mohammed in a bad light. Despite the ever-mounting evidence that this was no spontaneous uprising, and that it was a carefully orchestrated terror attack, administration spokespersons—all the way from press secretary Jay Carney to Susan Rice, our UN ambassador—deny that it had anything to do with American policy. The State Department even refuses to take any more questions on the issue. Americans are nervous, perhaps recalling our history with radical Islam, even prior to 9/11/2001:

But keep in mind, his defenders say, that he successfully carried out the killing of Osama bin Laden, and our drone attacks in Pakistan continue to take down Al Qaeda leaders. True, but I would hope any president would have followed up on the intelligence that located bin Laden, and would have taken the same action. He owes a great debt to President Bush for the policies that ultimately led to tracking down key terrorists. It also needs to be noted that Obama draws a line between Al Qaeda and what he considers legitimate “liberation” groups in the Muslim world. They are no better than Al Qaeda, yet he seems blind to that fact.

And then there’s the whole question of American support for Israel, our only real ally in the Middle East. From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has cold-shouldered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Never has an American president treated an Israeli leader with such disrespect. The latest example is Netanyahu’s request for a meeting with Obama to discuss the latest acts of terrorism and the looming threat of a nuclear Iran. The response? Our president’s schedule is too full; there’s no time for a face-to-face meeting. And just what is filling his schedule? Fundraisers with celebrities. Appearances on the Letterman show and other “soft” media outlets that will never ask him the tough questions. The prime minister of Israel? What does he have to offer?

Another salient fact that has emerged this past week is that President Obama has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings. That shows a decided lack of intelligence. Further, just when the American military needs to be at peak proficiency, he and his team are cutting back on military preparedness. If there is one duty the federal government most emphatically has, it is to protect its citizens from enemies who are developing the capability to destroy them. I believe he is failing in carrying out that vital responsibility.

The Obama foreign policy is a direct outgrowth of his anti-colonial, anti-Western-civilization worldview. He has far more in common with the radicals who seek to attack us than he does with America’s heritage. That should give any voter pause. Tomorrow, I’ll summarize the week’s posts and offer a challenge to the American electorate as we face perhaps the most pivotal election in our history.

Obama: Israel Is the Real Problem

In the midst of everything else the Obama administration is doing wrong, there’s the ongoing saga of how he’s handling the Middle East. Earlier last year, he spoke glowingly of the inappropriately named Arab Spring. What a boon this was going to be for the world. Now that Egypt has held its elections, the results have not been encouraging. Egypt is even holding nineteen Americans for trial who are primarily aid workers. I was hardly the only one who warned this development was inevitable, but the president and his administration seemed blissfully unaware of the trajectory of the protest movement. It has turned out as predicted:

Radical Islamists now effectively control Egypt. Sen. Rand Paul has introduced a bill that will stop all foreign aid to that country; I support it. Egypt is now another potential Iran.

Speaking of Iran, the effort to build nuclear weapons continues apace. This is the regime, when Obama was running for president back in 2008, that he said he could connect with—that Bush just didn’t try hard enough to communicate. Was this the height of foolishness or was this height of foolishness [sorry, I don't see another viable option here]? While he is now finally implementing some sanctions, it may be far too little, and it is probably far too late. A nuclear Iran? That’s not a problem, right? Anyone who can look past this threat and declare we have nothing to fear from it is truly living in fantasyland. Obama, although confronted with a genuine enemy, nevertheless has his own favorite “enemy” in that hostile region:

Obama has never liked Israel. He considers that anomaly in the middle of Muslim states to be the main obstacle to peace. All one has to do is recall his twenty years in attendance at “Rev.” Wright’s “church” to know where he stands. That “church” deplored Israel and promoted propaganda from Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Israel has no friend in President Obama. He treated Netanyahu with disrespect on one of his visits to America, and polls in Israel show the people there no longer see the U.S. as a trusted ally because of Obama. If we help that nation at all, it’s going to be only because of political pressure during his reelection campaign.

Obama’s foreign policy is just one of the many reasons he doesn’t deserve a second term, but it’s not a minor reason—our national security depends on having a president who has a clear vision of who our friends and enemies really are.

The Week in Review–Minus Presidential Politics

So what else has been happening this week besides presidential politics? Well, there were some other elections. In Ohio, Big Labor outspent the opposition and demagogued so successfully that the voters overturned the legislature’s law that attempted to control the collective bargaining power of government unions. They hail it as a victory. That’s because they think short-term and don’t stop to consider that this vote only worsens the financial situation. The result?

Those same Ohio voters, apparently confused by the concept of having a consistent philosophy of government, then rejected the individual mandate of Obamacare. Well, at least common sense prevailed on that one.

Back in Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder had to testify before a congressional committee about the Fast and Furious debacle. He refused to acknowledge that the plan to allow guns to migrate to the drug cartels led to the murder of a Border Patrol agent. He continues to act as if he’s not really responsible for those who operate under his authority. Does anyone see a pattern here?

Why bother?

Also hard at work was the so-called Super Committee trying to come up with a proposal for deficit reduction that both sides can agree on. Democrats walked out at one point. I can see the media spin on this one now:

 

Let’s not omit the president from this overview. In Europe for a G-20 summit, he and the French president found something to agree on—they both can’t stand Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The only problem is that the microphones picked up their comments; they didn’t know they could be overheard trashing the Israeli leader. Well, you know, he’s just such a pest!

Of course, he might have some legitimate concerns.

Sure, Why Not Another Terrorist State?

I’ve been concentrating on electoral politics lately. There have been other stories that deserve attention as well. One of those is the Palestinian effort to be recognized as a legitimate nation at the U.N. This comes to the forefront of what the media has dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The narrative goes something like this: despotic rulers are being displaced by freedom-loving moderates throughout the Arab world, so we should rejoice over this encouraging development.

Unfortunately, I believe this is closer to the reality:

Those freedom-loving crowds are the same ones attacking the Israeli embassy in Egypt and calling for death for all non-Muslims. The centerpiece of this Middle Eastern religious and cultural clash is the promotion of a Palestinian state. That’s why Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made his trek to the U.N. last week to press for statehood. He gave a speech to the General Assembly, arguing the merits of this move:

The problem is that both factions of Palestinians—the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] and Hamas—have, as their philosophical foundation, the destruction of the nation of Israel. The most fanatical of them seek to kill all Jews. Of course, Abbas didn’t say any such thing in his address, but the undercurrent is present nevertheless.

No, he didn’t wear the t-shirt, but that doesn’t negate the underlying premise.

The Obama administration’s response, so far, has been in line with American policy in all the decades since Israel’s birth in 1948. We’re told we will continue to stand with Israel by vetoing, in the Security Council, any attempt to recognize a Palestinian state. But please forgive me if I still have some concerns about that. We have a president who is so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause—remember his “church” back in Chicago that put statements from Hamas in its Sunday bulletins?—that I’m not sure he will remain steadfast with that veto.

The only real hope that he will keep his word is that he needs the Jewish vote again in 2012.