Too Many Battles, Not Enough Bible

Obama makes a brief appearance in 'The Bible' to warn of the sequester.

Obama makes a brief appearance in ‘The Bible’ to warn of the sequester.

Any television show that simultaneously confounds the pagans and the heretics can’t be all bad. But there’s a basic flaw in the History Channel’s The Bible that makes it hard for the cultural Christian or the spiritual seeker to absorb the message.

This is not to say the program isn’t popular. In fact, it’s wildly popular, but I fear we are preaching to the choir. The opening episode of The Bible attracted 13.1 million viewers, the largest cable audience of the year, and topped both editions of “American Idol” the same week.

Episode two had 10.8 million viewers, more than any other program in the same time period and it finished 11th overall for the week. The third episode gained viewers, inching up to 10.9 million, and was number nine for the week.

This is even more startling when you recall, as Daniel Wattenberg of the Washington Times pointed out, that The Bible “lacked the ready–made, large scale promotional platform and popular lead–in that can drive strong ratings for a new show on a major broadcast network…” It also lacked the nudity, bad language, obscene cartoon characters and titillation that excites the prurient interest of many cable TV viewers — although it does contain some off­–screen fornication, adultery and murder.

On the other hand The Bible had thousands of mentions in church bulletins and word of mouth to help build the audience. (The program is proving to be a Godsend for youth ministries across America.)

So what’s not to like?

As the program is structured it appeals to Christians who know the Bible or think they know it, yet it answers no questions and puts nothing in perspective for the curious viewer who wants to learn more about the Good Book. In fact, the program runs a very real risk of alienating those viewers.

It is very easy for them to ask: Why does a supposedly loving God command King Saul to kill everyone? Why are the Israelites attacking Canaanites who have done them no wrong and were there first? Why did it take 40 years to get from Egypt to the Promised Land? Why didn’t Moses get to enter the Promised Land? What did the Sodomites do that was so bad? (No pun intended.) If David is such a sinner, why does God love him and not other sinners He had killed? What did a child like Ishmael do to deserve banishment? Why did God toy with Abraham and Isaac?

And those are just the questions from the first two episodes! After about the third killing spree Buddhism starts to look pretty good, to say nothing of Unitarianism.

The Bible is ten hours long but even that length means much is truncated and condensed. (Why couldn’t The Hobbit have dispensed with some of the padding and been only Hobbit I and Hobbit II, giving the excess to The Bible?) The series cries out for a narration to bridge the gap and provide continuity and explanation.

Even better, each episode should be followed by a 15–minute scholarly discussion among experts to put the events into an overall context. I don’t mean the secular culture’s favorite Bible experts: Bart Ehrman, the agnostic professor of religion, and Karen Armstrong, the failed nun who is liable to believe most anything. This duo would chuckle and explain how these blood–thirsty folk tales are a product of their time, with little relevance to today’s enlightened society. If God were commissioning a bible nowadays, the content and teaching would be much different.

No, the overview portion would feature solid, believing scholars who can explain and put the Bible into context. They could observe Genesis concerns the long fall of man and how God intervenes to save the righteous few. Once He sets the Israelites apart from the rest of man, God’s intent is for them to be a pure and holy race: literally the chosen people. He knows man is weak and He does not want the Israelites to be contaminated by the fallen tribes in Canaan, who are sinners that practice child sacrifice; fallen beyond the hope of redemption.

The Israelites spend 40 years in the wilderness because they did not believe God and rejected His command to take the Promised Land. God waited until that generation died out and only the two good spies — Joshua and Caleb — remained. Moses did not enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed God in front of the Israelites.

David was a sinner and a serial sinner at that, but he recognized his sins and begged God for forgiveness. Even at that he paid a price for his transgressions. Ishmael was banished because he was the product of a sin originating with Sarah and was not part of God’s plan for Abraham, but even at that God heard Abraham’s plea and Ishmael fathered a great nation. But it was a nation that contended with the Israelites.

And God tested Abraham’s trust to prove he was worthy to be the founder of the chosen people.

But none of this is evident from just watching The Bible.

The producers could even have had young people ask the questions of the experts in a roundtable setting. It would not be any more unrealistic than an Obama town meeting or episode of Real Housewives of DC and might bring some of the searching to Christ.

No doubt the DVD will have something like this in the ‘extras’ portion. Unfortunately, that will be too late. Only the sold buy the DVD, the browsers have already moved on.

CPAC 2013 Stands With Rand

Sen. Rand Paul gives hope to the curly–haired.

Sen. Rand Paul gives hope to the curly–haired.

The 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held this week in National Harbor, just across the river from Washington, DC, did not appear to be a depressed gathering of Republicans and conservatives still reeling from last November’s presidential loss. There was friendly rivalry between supporters of Sen. Rand Paul (R–KY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R–FL), but I saw no evidence of divisive infighting and vicious internal attempts to gain mainstream media publicity at the expense of fellow party members.

But then again an impressive contingent of off–duty police officers was probably more than enough to keep John McCain and Lindsey Graham from attending the conference.

The opening day of CPAC 2013 evolved into a faceoff between two potential Republican presidential candidates: the aforementioned Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

Judging by the crowd’s reception, Paul was the winner.

Rubio — America’s foremost spokesman for regular hydration — did not address immigration, the issue he’s been most associated with this year. Instead the bulk of Rubio’s speech, once we got past the H2O jokes, was fairly standard — although he did touch on the call for a remodeled Republican party.

Rubio said the goal of the Republican Party should be to “create an agenda to apply our time–tested principles to the challenges of today” because average Americans are asking, “who is fighting for them?”

Specifically, Rubio believes the US should be the best place in the world to create middle–class jobs and to facilitate that the country must solve the federal government’s debt and spending problem. Republicans should stress pro–growth energy policies that include both oil and gas. On the home front, he wants every parent to have an opportunity to send their children to “the school of their choice.” And we need real heath care reform that empowers Americans so they can buy insurance from any company, regardless of where the company is headquartered.

The young senator also addressed leftist critics and predicted they will downplay his speech and claim that he didn’t offer any new ideas. “We don’t need a new idea. The idea is called America and it still works,” Rubio responded as the audience applauded.

It would have been the best conservative speech of the day, if Rand Paul had not made an appearance.

It was a standing–room only crowd that anticipated Paul’s appearance and it erupted in applause as he brandished the binders he used during his drone filibuster in the Senate and declared, “I was told I only had ten measly minutes, but just in case I brought 13 hours worth of information.”

Paul — who gives hope to the curly–haired since no one will ever call him ‘blow dried’ — began by explaining that the motivation for his filibuster was to question whether presidential power has limits: “We want to know will you or won’t you defend the Constitution?”

As an audience member called out, “Don’t drone me, bro!” Paul explained that the president’s good intentions are not enough. “No one person gets to decide the law,” he said. And that’s his philosophy in a nutshell: leaders must defend and abide by the Constitution even when it’s not convenient.

Paul then moved to compare his conservative philosophy with that of Obama’s, which has proven to be you can have your cake and eat your neighbor’s, too. He quoted Ronald Reagan who said, “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

With that in mind he proposed a five–year plan to balance the budget. Paul’s blueprint cuts the corporate income tax in half, creates a flat personal income tax of 17.5 percent, erases the regulations “strangling American business” and eliminates the Department of Education entirely giving the power and the money back to the states.

Paul observed without mentioning names that the GOP “of old has grown stale and moss–covered.” His new GOP will need a big tent because it will “embrace economic and personal liberty. Liberty needs to be the backbone of the Republican Party and I ask everyone who values liberty to stand with me.”

And the crowd did, giving him a standing ovation that easily eclipsed the response to Rubio’s earlier speech.

In the MSM Every Silver Lining Is Obscured by a Cloud

blindfolded-mainstream-media-posterI’ve about decided that reading three newspapers a day, plus Newsmax.com may be bad for my emotional health. Normally the day starts with the Washington Examiner, a fine tabloid with a conservative editorial page. I like the Examiner even though the paper is evidently unaware the county were I live — Prince William — exists, as the paper’s Northern Virginia coverage does not extend south of Fairfax County.

So I turn to a story by Matt Connolly that makes me optimistic regarding the nation’s future. The headline reads, “Poverty rates plummet for D.C. Asians, Hispanics.” Now that is good news! In spite of a sluggish Obama economy, the American Dream is still available for those willing to work. Upward mobility is still possible. What’s more, less poverty means less need for big government welfare programs, which is always appealing to a small government conservative like myself.

According to Connolly, new census data shows “the percentage of D.C. Hispanics under the poverty line dropped from 20.5 percent in the 2000 census to 14 percent in the 2007 – 2011 average.” And in Maryland’s Prince George’s County the rate “dropped from 14.1 percent to 11.7 percent” in spite of the fact the overall Hispanic population more than doubled in that time period. In Fairfax County, VA and Montgomery County, MD the rate remained “relatively stagnant” but did not get appreciably worse.

Even better, “poverty rates for Asians…dropped across the board” plunging from 22.8 percent to 14 percent. More good news, even though the ingrates aren’t voting for Republicans — the people who keep your taxes low and try to grow the economy.

But then I made the mistake of turning to the WaPost and there I see a headline that complains, “Poverty rates higher for blacks and Hispanics than whites and Asians.” Damn, The Man is still keeping the pigmented people down! So much for my misplaced optimism.

Naturally I want to see where reporter Carol Morello came by this depressing evidence of conservative inhumanity to man. (After all it has to be our fault, since we are not in favor of Obama phones, Sandra Fluke’s rubbers and no–work–required welfare.) But wait, the data came from the exact same census report that Connolly persuaded me was packed with good news!

Instead of congratulating Asians for pulling themselves out of poverty, Morello implies they are now in league with The Man and it looks suspiciously like these calculator jockeys have forgotten all about minority solidarity and are trying to pass for white.

In fact, Morello says absolutely nothing about the reduction in poverty rates that Connolly found so newsworthy, and instead focuses on nationwide poverty rates and then singles out that noted economic basket case D.C.’s Ward 8 for black poverty numbers. Statistically this is like complaining about mortality rates in a mortuary.

So why is Morello such a Debbie Downer? American leftists and their cheerleaders in the mainstream media have a pigment problem: There’s a black man in the White House.

It’s becoming increasing difficult to condemn America as a hopelessly racist society when there is this black guy jetting around the country on Air Force One. Since the Marines are saluting him, he can’t be passed off as the butler. And how does one complain about institutional racism when a black guy is in charge of the institution? And how can Virginia be a bigot benighted outpost of the Confederacy when Obama carried the state twice?

A favorite MSM ploy is to pick and choose your statistics, which is the path Morello has chosen. Focusing on persistent black poverty in the abstract implies there is no upward mobility for blacks unless government steps in to make the situation “fair.” Yet black poverty is often a self–inflicted wound as black Prince George’s Councilman Mel Franklin points out in the WaPost “Root” section.

Franklin writes, “In short, no program, either government or nonprofit, can replace the void created by the absence of a good father in a household.

“Annually, as you probably know, over 70 percent of births in the black community nationwide are out of wedlock. Study after study demonstrates (and our common sense tells us) the dramatic effect that this collapse in our family structure has had on education, the economy and criminal justice outcomes for youth, especially the absence of a good father in his son’s household.”

Pointing out the harm black men and women do when they choose to bear children in the absence of marriage is not blaming the victim. You can criticize a suicide whether it’s physical or fiscal. And I compliment Councilman Franklin for pointing out the obvious. But I also note he was not quoted in Morello’s story.

Implying personal responsibility is not method of creating demand for more government. Leftists believe individuals are at the mercy of forces beyond their control, like a termite in a tidal wave, and the only source of help is government. And since leftists dominate the MSM, you get stories like Morello’s.

Which is why I only read the WaPost after I’ve been inoculated by the Examiner and the Washington Times. I suggest my conservative readers do likewise.

We Were Sequestered Before It Was Cool

Sequester pruning

The Obama Administration’s Ministry of Truth has been experiencing some traction problems in the DC area. The scare stories regarding the collapse of the air travel system in the event of sequester are simply not motivating people in spite of the fact the Mainstream Media (MSM) has dutifully spread the word.

We are warned that in the event of sequester, massive TSA layoffs will result in airline passengers waiting up to three hours before they can be groped by a highly–trained government sex harasser. Slashing the budget by two cents on every dollar will also mean TSA guards won’t be changing rubber gloves between touchy–feely sessions.

Female passengers, who undergo nearly nude full–body scans, will be relieved to learn this drastic reduction torpedoes the ink budget. TSA can no longer afford to print particularly comely images for posting in the lunchroom. And since it’s too costly to store the pictures on government hard drives, TSA will ask remaining employees to work overtime and upload the images to their Facebook accounts for safekeeping.

According to the White House, you aren’t even safe on board the aircraft. Air traffic controllers will be awakened from their control tower naps and told to go sleep at home. The few remaining will be grumpy and sleepy, with a consequent slowdown in takeoffs and landings.

Assuming one gets in the air, passengers will be shocked to learn airlines will no longer offer free in–flight meals and instead expect passengers to pay handsomely for sandwiches wrapped and catered by 7/11. Wait, that’s already happened. Sorry, false alarm.

All in all it’s a horrible foretaste of privation and delay, yet not a single Republican Congressman is hanging from a lamppost. In fact there is so much indifference here that Obama has taken his nationwide Hyperventilation Tour on the road.

The reason for our calm in the face of the impending storm is that Metro, our local DC subway system, has essentially been sequestered for the past two years and life has continued. It’s more inconvenient, spontaneous and ad hoc — at least when it comes to arriving on time — but it is life.

I’ve long contended Metro is the only mass trans system run by an improv group, but now the passengers are joining in the fun. Take this week for instance: Tuesday morning on the Silver Line (this is DC, so everything has to do with money) crack Metro crews were testing equipment. As the WaPost reports, one of the brakes began to lock up. Like the spinster on the way to church who assumes a flat tire will heal itself, the crew continued operating the train trying to get off the track before rush hour or looming obsolescence caught up with them.

They didn’t make it. The wheel wore down to a nub, a pantoodler fell off and sliced through 60 cables and the system ground to a halt. The only thing left to do was call AAA and wait for the tow truck.

Metro officialdom predicted repairs would be complete by noon, but it took a total of nine hours. Metro sent alerts to passengers twice and then their thumbs got tired. So between 7 AM and 2 PM Metro passengers were on their own, which is a not uncommon condition. Then a train malfunctioned on the Yellow Line. There was a track problem on the Blue line. And another train shot craps on the Green Line.

And those are just the unplanned shutdowns.

The system regularly closes entire stations on the weekend and as a matter of fact the Reagan Airport station will be shut for three days beginning March 1st. (I guess they figured what with the sequester and all, no one will be flying anyway.)

Metro limits the number of trains on holidays and shuts escalators for months at a time forcing passengers to trudge upward toward daylight from the bowels of the system. Recently on a single day Metro passengers suffered seven electronic thefts and every last one of them was during daylight hours! Thieves evidently rest during the night so they can read the manuals and learn how to download apps.

The reason Metro ‘service’ is such a gamble is management didn’t bother with routine maintenance for the past 15 or so years. I’m guessing the thinking was: We’re the government, what could go wrong? So current passengers pay for the mistakes of past incompetent management, a situation young people are soon to encounter with regard to Social Security taxes.

Frankly, I’m hoping the full effect of the sequester hits when the majority of members of Congress are out of town. That way if they can’t get back, they can’t resume spending.